Monday, April 23, 2018

No Easy Path

I climb the chipped steps,
past the drab grey walls,
smell the institutional smell,
turn left at the psych ward.

The nurses size me up;
I am found wanting,
a mother whose child has
broken down.

I wait in the social lounge
where people with agonized eyes
walk through their
tortured inner landscapes,
fragile and haunted as trembling ghosts,
the floor turned unsteady under their feet.
It feels like the abandoned ones live here,
that the rain never stops
sliding down the windows
above the busy city streets,
where the rest of the world
lives on.

Where will my son's bright spirit
ever find a place to land,
in halls so bleak and bare,
the hours measured out by naps
and pills in little paper cups?

He approaches, tousle-headed,
the same blue eyes.
We hug,
the same big smile.
I am relieved.
This is still my son.

I am about to make a long journey
with this blue-eyed lad.
We begin a conversation
that will last the years.

By the time I descend
the grey chipped steps, emerging into
the parallel reality called Normal Life,
I have learned that,
in a nanosecond, any one of us
can topple over into that land of
rain-speckled windows
and no more hope.

My son, brilliant, gifted,
a mystic, a dreamer,
a composer, a lover of life,
had walked the fine line
between daybreak and hellfire
and had fallen.

Schizophrenia had claimed
my bright-hearted boy
for its own at seventeen.

He had moved into another life,
as lonely as a coyote
howling at the moon.
I hold on tight, for all the years to come,
tethering him to earth
with the force of my will.
I will never let go.

We find the gifts
that accompany the pain.
We learn things we would
never have learned any other way.
But the price is high.
Slowly, as the decades turn,
the boy grows to a man
in institutional walls.
Hope fades to resignation.
The golden spark grows dim.
My boy became a man;
no easy path for him.

for Kerry's prompt at Real Toads: The Mind. I am adding one of Jeff's songs. He has composed many beautiful ones, and written some amazing poems, but this one speaks to me in response to the above poem.

I Fly Through a River of Dreams
by Jeffrey Siddhartha Crazy Horse Marr

I was a child but I have grown
Your quiet house is all I've known
The crooked peach-tree in the yard
The killing rain we took too hard

And now I must cry
And embrace you
And wave good-bye...

I Fly Through a River of Dreams
Where love is like a summer breeze
I Fly Through a River of Dreams
That carries me toward the Sea

I see you on the bright-green bank
You are the one that I must thank
I see your face and sky-blue dress
Come, let us touch our last caress

And now I must cry
And embrace you
And wave good-bye...

We'll meet again just you and I
Beneath a peach-tree in the yard
The two of us will never die
And rain becomes a little sigh

And now I must cry
And embrace you
And say good-bye...


  1. Oh my goodness, so much pain on both sides, and yet, you have managed to send a life ring out to each other and hold it.

  2. wow - Sherry - both your poem, your telling of your son's story, and clearly, the story of others, is so heart-wrenching, so poignant, and yet it also speaks of the promise of hope, even against so many odds - and persistence, faith, and above all, unconditional love. The love that is a bond that can never be broken, and the strength of a person, who surely, in the face of overwhelming odds, and most likely the face of a society, a world that casts dark shadows for ignorance, chooses to stand tall, with the strength of the mighty oak, yet the flexibility of the willow.

    And your son's lyrics? Are equally moving. And poignant.

    Thank you for sharing this deeply personal story - both yours and his, and his words too - you have given voice and light - honouring the both of you.

  3. Oh my Sherry. This is heartwrenching. But yet there is some hope here. You son's song is also heart wrenching. Thank you for sharing this personal insight into you and to your son. Blessings on both of you.

  4. Sherry you have me crying... which is a good thing.. both your poems are so filled with love and pain... this is what poetry should be... stir me like this.

  5. Speechless.
    Pain / love, the intensities of life hold you, and I love how that has deepened you and your gifts.

  6. Your poem is heart stirring. Happy for the gift of love there. Thank you for sharing your son's song. Yes it does compliment your poem in a loving way


  7. It is no accident my children are the ones sent to be mine. It has been an amazing journey. They taught me how to Be A Tree, holding steady enough to support them without falling over.

  8. Oh Sherry, this is sad and inspiring at the same time. It has shaped you into the person you are today. Your analogy ...Being a Tree- is perfect

  9. Beautiful poem, beautiful song, beautiful love between beautiful souls. And I don't underestimate how hard it has been, and is, and will be. You are not the only friend of mine to experience this, so I know a lot about the details, albeit second-hand.

  10. This had to be a difficult write, yet it reads like soft flowing whispers, as does your son's song. Yes, you have taught them, but learned much in the process. Bless you, my friend.


  11. I share the same views as all of the others, your poignant story brings teas but not pity. You and your son seem both to strong for that :-)

  12. Truly... I have sat here for a while... thinking, rereading this poem, the lyrics, looking at your soon now... and the as a boy of about 10? My youngest sons age now. My son wondered why I just gave him such a LONG hug and kiss. Thank God he still lets me. Oh Sherry, This is so very moving. I've saved it to my Pinterest of favorite poems - and this one truly touches my mother's heart. HUGS.

  13. Oh Sherry this is so beautifully evocative it brought tears into my eyes.. Lovely analogy too💞

  14. This simply killed me, Sherry. I don't have the words.

  15. Oh my god Sherry! I am sitting here my mouth open. I have no wisdom or experience to offer. It must be hard for both of you and it makes us braver to see those who walk a harder path. Thank you.

  16. although each day comes as a steep hill ... the ones we love give strength to climb...

  17. Oh goodness, what can I say? Crying, what pain, what strength...

  18. You speak of a very sad thing, we can never completely protect our children. Sometimes they get sick, and this sickness has so many different twists and turns, unexpected in life. The path isn't easy, and we wonder, what did we learn? hugs


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