For quite a few years now, one of my favorite poetry sites online has been POETSONLINE (see http://poetsonline.org). This site introduced me to presenting poetry online for others to read and it also taught me what fun it can be to write to a specific prompt. The site’s administrator, Ken Ronkowitz, has several blogs, several of which focus on poetry. His prompts are always very well thought out, amply illustrated with poetic examples, they never fail to offer a good challenge to both an experienced writer or someone new to writing poetry. This past summer, Ken presented an interesting prompt that began with Carl Sandburg’s poem, “Mag”:
“The prompt this time out was to write a poem about a negative wish (or wishes) – a wish to undo, wishes that change the past. Those are the wishes that pull you right back to the present and have you thinking about the future.”
The poems written in response to the prompt were published this fall. I wanted to share mine here on my own poetry blog to reach a broader audience. I think the problem is poor self-esteem and distorted sense of self-worth isn’t uncommon in women in America. I struggled with it all my life and just when I think I’m in control, something might happen and make me backslide. I’d say that 97% of the time, my rational self is in control and keeps that negative thinking in check. I do regret having wasted so much of my life feeling inadequate or not worthy of being valued in so many ways. I know I’m not alone. I hope any person reading this poem will think about it and someone they know who struggles with this issue and perhaps, do something to help her (or him) learn to embrace their own self-worth.
If you’d like to listen to the poem, click on the link below and wait a few seconds for the audio to begin.
I Wish I Could Undo…
All the time
I wasted waiting for life to happen,
As if there would be a perfect moment
When the stars aligned just so,
Or my sails swiftly caught the wind,
And the ivory moon was full.
I thought it would just happen.
All the time
I wasted loathing who I am:
Never good enough, smart enough,
Thin enough, clever enough,
And if that weren’t already enough,
I somehow felt that if I said it enough,
I really might be transformed,
Emerging a butterfly and not a moth.
I would be smarter, beautiful, wittier,
And I’d dance with agile grace.
At last it became quite apparent:
I would never be ‘enough’ for me.
All that time
I wasted wishing myself away.
If only I could undo all of that,
And take back time…and use it well.
I’d whisper a simple incantation
To my younger self:
You were enough, more than enough
In your very own way.
First published on PoetsOnline.org under “Negative Wishes,” August 2014
“I Wish I Could Undo…” (c) 2014, Mary Kendall