To My Mother Who Gave Me Words

I’ll never forget the first poem I ever wrote. I was in 2nd grade:

Me, myself, and I
eat Strawberry Apple Pie,
and when we are all done, then we weigh a ton.

My teacher over at Coleman Elementary School in Woonsocket, Rhode Island told me it was amazing. “The best in the class!” were his exact words. And ya’ know what? I didn’t believe him.

I ran home that day with a ragged paper in my hand and a question on my lips. I knew I’d have to wait until just before dark to see those familiar headlights heading down the hill into the parking lot of our apartment on 2nd Avenue. Mom, I don’t think you’ll ever realize how many times I looked out that window each day.

I remember reading you my first poem that night. Your beautiful, tired face smiled like I hoped it would. You told me how amazing it was, but this time those kind words were different because I believed every word you said.

I’ll never forget when, just a few days later, you came home with a special, yellow, neon folder with 3 brads and 2 pockets. “This is for your words, Son,” you explained, “to keep them safe.”

Every writer needs a safe place to rest his/her words before they take flight for the world to read, interpret and dissect how they will.

Mom, thank you for being my safe place before I even knew I needed one; for being a safe harbor where I was allowed to hone the craft of writing without the toxins of senseless cynicism or passive praise.
Thank you, also, for knowing when to push me back out to the unsafe sea that I might fully sail, as we were all destined to do.

“A ship in a harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”

This is for my mother who gave me the gift of words. I could never thank you enough.

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