Poetry A short haired woman in a pink hoodie and a long-haired woman in a purple sweater, viewed from behind, with their arms around each other

Published on May 23rd, 2024 | by Melinda Coppola


The World Ought to Know Something of Your Shimmers: Poems


You only caught glimpses 
of your child
as he sped through toddlerhood
towards those labels
that mean everything
and nothing: 
child, tween, teen, young adult.

Glimpses, you say,
as if it all tornadoed past you
while I stood stupefied,
hands in pockets,
by the side of some dusty cow path, 
a perpetual look of dull 
surprise on my unremarkable face.

Truth is, 
over here our lives
are nothing like that.

My daughter and I have plodded along
like turtles in the too-hot sun, 

pausing every few feet
to rest, to allow her 
a few attempts at integrating
the latest sensory assault,

which could have been a wind 
shaking the branches too fast,
or the distant sound
of a jake brake on a downhill semi
from a highway half a mile away.

Her needs are special, 
which means our shimmy
is your slow dance,
our milestones 
seem like simple addition
to your kid’s calculus.

I’m used to it, 
adept at appreciating 
the kinds of beauty 
that decorate this life
that chose me, and her.

It’s not the pace of it all
that leaves me sweaty
and gasping for breath.

It’s my head spinning
as other children date
and learn to drive, 
go to college,
get married, 
have babies,
buy a house,

flying so far from nests
their parents can’t squint enough
to make out the tiny dot
their bodies make
as they soar onward,
commanding the skies. 

Photo by Nick Fewings on Unsplash

What You Mean

I tell our story
at times from desperation
since you will surely outlive me.

The larger world ought to know
something of your shimmers—
the way you hear colors in every song,
can turn a pun deftly
without knowing the meaning of the words,
will readily recall, decades later,
the exact date
a person scolded you.

Sometimes, I write from untamed desire
to be generous with your innocence,
for every community seems fraught
with deception and guile.

The purity with which you see—
almost minimalist in its lack of gray areas—
would surely lighten, lift, and soothe.

The  bad days you call “tall-haired boys”
The good ones  “long-haired girls”

You are given a gift you don’t like.
Why must you pretend you do? 

You chose 5:15 for your dinner. 
It’s now 5:18.
Why is the dinner late?
At 1 p.m. he said  
Be with you in a minute.
It’s now 1:09.

Why shouldn’t you get upset?
You have taught me, 
among other things,
we cannot keep our eye 
on any grand old flag,
nor do we peel our eyes 
or keep them on a prize somewhere.

If we can hear
we cannot turn a deaf ear to anything.
A new chapter
means the next part of a book,
not a life.
Nobody has real butterflies
inside their stomachs.

Your questions 
refresh with their honesty,
jostle assumptions, 
make space for wonder.
And folks are hungry for wonder.

So I write
and share
asking along with you—
Why don’t people say what they mean?

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About the Author

Melinda Coppola penned her first poem—about the color pink—at the tender age of 8.  Her relationship with writing was mercurial for decades, but once she learned that her blood type is, in fact, poet, she  has settled into a kind of quiet cohabitation with her muses. Melinda’s work has been published in many fine books, magazines, and journals including Spirit First, Third Wednesday, Willows Wept Review, and Thimble Literary Magazine. She also makes art, teaches Yoga, and communes with stones on Cape Cod beaches. She is currently seeking a publisher for her first full length book of poetry, which focuses on her journey parenting her autistic daughter.

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