Friday, May 1, 2009

What I Fear

One of the last PAD prompts was to write a sestina, so I did. The themes come from two places - one a very old prompt I took from Stacey, which is just to take all your fears or anxieties and write them into a poem - and one taking off on the theme of a poem I read Monday night.

What I Fear

These are the things I fear:
both success and failure, love
and never finding love, being
trapped in a house that’s burning,
cars stopped on a bridge,
growing old or dying young.

I no longer feel young
in the winter, and I fear
the ice on each bridge,
want only warmth and love,
your face above a book, fireplace burning
beside our two chairs, the simple act of being

with you. Each human being
can be happy but only the young
see it as a right. This ends with the burning
of a hand on a stove, the lessons to fear
what you do not know, that love
sometimes punishes, that not all bridges

can or should be crossed. A bridge
just outside of town where we went to be
alone, threw our bras in the creek and made love
in the car for the first time. We were young
enough to be reckless, old enough to fear
judgment. My mother told us we would burn

in hell, her knuckles white, her arms a burning
cross over her chest. She can not bridge
the gap between God and love. Her fear
is for my soul, her guilt for not being
able to avert this crisis when I was young.
There are so many kinds of love

and so many feelings that are not love:
to be trapped, to be forced, to burn
inside with shame. When I was young
I learned to fear escalators and bridges
and strange men and drugs. I learned to be
good is to be safe, and this is what I truly fear:

that I will let fear keep me from love,
that nothing will be enough to burn
away the bridges sunk deep when I was young.


kg said...

Wow, this is beautiful! Thank you for sharing it!

Emily said...

Thank you, Kara! How are you doing now that you're back in the "real world"?