The Penultimate Child

 

For Carry On Tuesday prompt:  You don’t know about me…
http://carryontuesdayprompt.blogspot.com/

Sorry, no essay today, but maybe some thoughts to take away with you. The words from the prompt are taken from the beginning lines of Mark Twain’s, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.

The Penultimate Child

You don’t know about me,
but I’m the penultimate child,
the one who doesn’t really own
a face, just that next to last
place in line.

Supposedly filled with grace
because my birth took place
on a Tuesday. What on earth
happens on a Tuesday,
that should warrant extra
grace, only because it rhymes
with face and fills that space
between first and that one
born to be full of woe?

You don’t know about me,
but it’s easy to skip past one
stuck between first and last,
always there, always in shadow,
where the wild things grow
unattended. Left to own devices,
trying to bend toward light
extended to left and right,
but never quite slides into darker
corners, where debris piles up
until it breaks free and makes
a mess that must be cleared
until next time.

You don’t know about me, but
that’s okay until the day when
you will need darker fruit I have
gathered. You might plead that
‘now it matters’, but I will not heed
your plaintive request, because
after all, you must know

that I don’t know you.

Elizabeth Crawford  9/7/10

Advertisements

About 1sojournal

Loves words and language. Dances on paper to her own inner music. Loves to share and keeps several blogs to facilitate that. They can be found here: https://1sojournal.wordpress.com/ http://soulsmusic.wordpress.com/ http://claudetteellinger.wordpress.com/
This entry was posted in The Penultimate Child and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

17 Responses to The Penultimate Child

  1. Deborah says:

    Wonderful ..so well written!!!

    Like

  2. 1sojournal says:

    thank you Deborah, am pleased that you enjoyed it,

    ELizabeth

    Like

  3. woih says:

    this has cleared away every thought in my mind. I’m sitting here trying to show gratitude for this post…yet…it’s oddly empty.Thank you

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      And your response leaves me with little of anything to say. I don’t understand what you are saying. Sorry,

      Elizabeth

      Like

      • woih says:

        Oh..sorry ELizabeth. I meant that it took my mind into an open and unique space. I was/am grateful for the experiecne that this writing provided me with. Sorry I was/am so oddly worded and under-expressed. I don’t always convey so well.

        Woih, don’t need an apology. Sometimes, the words just don’t connect for me and I feel this huge blank space where understanding should be and isn’t. You are certainly not the first and won’t be the last. And I didn’t want to make some sort of stupid comment to just fill the space. I’d rather be honest and say I’m not getting it. At least then I leave myself an opportunity to learn or fill in that blank space. Thanks so much for coming back and setting things straight. Many wouldn’t have bothered.

        Elizabeth

        Like

  4. naramalone says:

    Beautiful description and reflection on the things that define us.

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Only some of us, I hope. I was a bit surprised where this one came out. Wasn’t sure I wanted to post it, but figured it was a perspective so why not. Thanks for stopping and commenting,

      Elizabeth

      Like

  5. gospelwriter says:

    always there, always in shadow,
    where the wild things grow
    unattended.

    I can hear the child’s plaintive cry in there…

    Liked the twist in the final lines.

    Like

  6. 1sojournal says:

    Thank you Ruth, like I said above, I wasn’t at all sure of this one and the twist on the end surprised me as well. Although I can understand the perspective, it can’t make for a very easy life.

    Elizabeth

    Like

  7. Susannah says:

    Beautifully written and full of depth and layers of meaning.

    I too loved the lines “always in shadow,
    where the wild things grow
    unattended.”

    Very nice writing.

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Susannah, glad you liked it. I have a thing about those particular lines. Although they might sound like a negative to some ears, they are not meant on any such level. I found, still find, a great deal of value in those wild things and what they have come to mean to me personally. I believe that without them, I would be just another old woman wondering why life was not fun or exciting any more. With them, each day is a wonder to explore and learn from,

      Elizabeth

      Like

  8. Jane says:

    Hi Elizabeth–

    Perhaps there is indeed woe being penultimate, but being the first child has its challenges as well. The first has adults as his/her role models and may always feel somewhat of a “Mini-me”. The first may shoulder the brunt of the parents’ expectations, especially to reflect their narcissistic glory. The first may be held up as a role model for the younger children. He/she may feel either an example of what not to be and feel a failure, or a standard to which all “youngers” will be held and feel guilty. For the oldest, there is no peer group of siblings, no “us-against-them”. The oldest has no buffer, for better or for worse.

    Like

    • 1sojournal says:

      Hi Jane, you make a very good point. However, this poem is in the voice of the penultimate child. So it proceeds from that perspective. The voice of the first-born child would be very different, see things through an entirely different filter. And, I would dare say, come out, or conclude in a very different manner. And bottom line, be an entirely different poem. Separate from this one, but no less viable.

      But, that is the wonder and learning aspect of writing to these prompts. One never knows where they will take the writer. And the writer should not be confused with the narrator of the poem, the story, whatever. The writer is simply the vehicle for whatever voice the poem chooses.

      You had a strong reaction to the voice in this poem, and that is good. It means the poem did its work and left you with a lot of buts, but, but…lol. I would like to see you take that very insightful comment you made and turn it into a poem that responds to this one, in the voice of that first born child.

      There is a definite advantage for the penultimate child. He/she is left to gather what grows in the darkness, all those wilder things that definitely bring a different view to the table. Not necessarily a wrong view, just a different one.And neither voice should be silenced, but rather should work toward accord that would foster a deeper understanding of and for both.

      Thanks again for an insightful comment and thought process, I love it when that happens.

      Elizabeth

      Like

  9. tillybud says:

    Oh I love this! I wish I could award you a gold star.

    Like

  10. I like the challenge that Tuesday’s child is given gift of grace for, perhaps, no other reason but to rhyme and then the contrast of grace with ‘wild things’ and ‘darkness’ speaking of secrets. This last child seems, for me, to be giving a wake-up call that even with grace we stumble and fall. Enjoyed that insight, one easily shared by just being human. Thank you for poem sharing.

    Like

  11. 1sojournal says:

    happyflowerwordzoo, thank you and I’m glad you found something here that you enjoyed. I am always amazed, after focusing in on the making of a poem, to look up and see the whole of the piece and what it really says. Sort of catch myself by surprise, and it’s just another reason I like poetry so much.

    Elizabeth

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s