Listen to poem:
I'm very lucky...writing poetry soothes my soul -
Rhonda was the only child of Ron and Debby Baker.
Debby was a widow. It was 1952…
And having been away from ‘41 to ‘43 -
fighting on the front in Europe - all that Rhonda knew
About her dad was that he looked a bit like Spencer Tracy -
liked to fish - sang quite well - and loved to write in rhyme.
Being conceived about a month before he’d joined the Army,
though he called them now and then - and wrote them all the time -
Rhonda’d never heard the way he sounded on the phone,
and barely recollected all the mail her mom had read.
With not much more than photographs of Ron at 22 -
learning from the Army that her “everything” was dead -
Debby couldn’t accept the fact that he was gone for good,
And, when it came to Rhonda…she was very seldom - “there”.
But even as a child she understood her mother’s fear,
and never saw her weaknesses as proof she didn’t care.
Feeling that no other man could take her father’s place,
Rhonda soon accepted that she’d never have a dad…
Telling those, who weren’t aware of why he wasn’t there,
how much she an’ her mother truly missed the one she’d had.
His badly tattered baseball mitt - the poems that he’d composed -
before and after leaving - and a shiny turquoise comb
Were all they had to link them to the man who’d left for war
then broke his solemn promise that he’d - ‘soon be coming home’.
Debby bounced from job to job, but - struggling to survive -
she always gave it all she had to keep them safe and warm.
But, very slowly…what began to strain her fragile mind
would escalate from something hard to manage - to a storm.
More than she could cope with, she began to lose her will,
haunted by her mem’ry of the only love she’d known.
Her folks had passed away the year before she’d married Ron,
and his had died when he was young, which left him on his own.
Neither had a sibling. There was nowhere left to turn.
nowhere whatsoever, and…at only thirty-two…
Debby felt the pain, again, of losing one she loved
when people from the welfare office did the thing they do.
Taken by authorities, when friends of hers complained
about her inability to pay for food and rent,
Debby fin’ly lost her mind…..her only consolation
came from understanding that where Rhonda had been sent
Only intervened when things had gotten really bad,
saving at-risk children when their parents couldn’t cope.
She knew, with Ronnie gone, that she’d lost any chance she’d had,
but understood - with proper help - for Rhonda….there was hope.
Eight days later Rhonda got a call from “Special Care”
telling her that Debby had - committed suicide.
She’d left a note beside her bed that started out, “Dear Ron” -
indicating clearly that…for her…he hadn’t died -
“Thank you, dear,” the note went on…“for writing when you can.
Every single day I ask the Lord to bring you home.
I absolutely love the bits of verse you sometimes write,
and here, for you’s…my very first attempt to write a poem.
“I’m sure you’ll laugh to read it, but - beginning when you left -
things have gotten harder off an’ on for quite some time,
And I recall you telling me that…‘when you’re feeling blue…
you slip into a quite place…and put your thoughts in rhyme.
“So…here we go….
“Every day, when I wake up, I glance across the room -
find our fancy wedding picture - hanging by the mirror -
Gaze into your gentle eyes - while throwing you a kiss -
then…giving you my sweetest smile, I say…“Good morning, dear.”
That’s as far as Debby got, but - meaning all it did -
Rhonda made a copy of the poem and had it framed.
Her words confirmed, beyond a doubt, her never ending love
for whom the one and only child she’d ever have was named.
Today - when things get really tough - she’ll find a private place
and reminisce with photos in a scrapbook Debby made.
“I named you after Ronnie,” she’d informed her years before…
“and if -- as you grow older, dear -- your mem’ry starts to fade…
“And, ‘Life’ -- with all its pain and grief -- is tearing you apart…
if having us there with you helps you fight the stress and fears…
Gives you strength you sorely need to make it through the day
and see your way more clearly - though your eyes are filled with tears -
“Then open up this scrapbook, Rhonda…let it flood your soul.
The love these pictures represent for you -- both mine and his --
Will light your even darkest hour. You’re part of both of us,
and I’ll try hard to be there, dear, and…he already is!
“So, sneak away to someplace warm…where you can be alone…
a place that’s truly wonderful for spending quiet time…
And heed your father’s wise suggestion: ‘When you’re feeling blue…
slip into a quite place…and put your thoughts in rhyme.’”
BTW: I plan to post many of my AUDIO files on the soup over the next few months, most from my 4 new AUDIO-CDs, along with many more text files from my books of verse. (Only a few CDs and books left -- 1-11-21).
Because, as with most academically undisciplined poets, depending entirely on the mood I’m in at writing time, my pieces vary greatly from meaninglessly comical to meaningfully poignant, and a few are, admittedly, irreverent. If you happen to enjoy “traditional verse” - and appreciate great variety, check out my website’s at: WWW,WRITEROFBOOKS.COM --- or Google me...after 58 years of penning verse and authoring childrens and suspense books, I’m easy to reach! I've also got a bunch of my verse posted on Youtube, and a few samples listed on Ebay, all are findable by simply searching: "Mark Stellinga".
Copyright © Mark Stellinga | Year Posted 2021