I’ve wanted to work on a reverse poem for a while. I finally sat down and made it happen. I have many themes in my head but this one is perfect for the poem structure. By reading down and back up, you journey with me “out of the fog” to face the “wound”.
“Coming out of the fog” is a phrase adoptees use when we begin to confront the reality of how adoption has impacted us. It’s a non-linear experience of grief and loss that can begin at any time in an adoptee’s life. Some adoptees never experience this.
The “wound” refers to the Primal Wound theory by Nancy Verrier, which states that even if a child is separated from the first mother the moment it is born, the infant will register that as trauma in their body, in their nervous system. Though an adoptee like myself may not have a conscious memory of that stress or my struggle to survive without my biological mom, the wound is there. Acknowledging that is part of healing.
Thanks for reading.
Title: Fog & Wound
By Tiffany Lavon
Adoption is beautiful.
I can’t honestly claim that
I need to grieve
I don’t need sympathy
Focusing on my blessings
Is how I grow, not
Lamenting a loss before memory
I should always be grateful
It is actually harmful to imply
Adoption is inherently traumatic
My adopted family
Is a deeper part of me than
My ancestral heritage
Which will never be part of my life
The bond with my first mother
Does not eclipse
My adopted mother’s love
I have no doubt that
This was God’s Plan A
I can’t imagine how
My life could be better.
[read in reverse, line by line]
Better will not be
Not for them
if not by me
will not all sacrifice
will not all open their eyes
Pushing my hopes into their future dreams
is just passing the stuck of our present reality
naming better evolves naturally
claiming hate fades as life cycles
is not any relief
I must show mine
how to blend action and belief
Must summon all that I already am
to cultivate all that they already are
but can’t harvest yet
I must make better
not just for them
but with them
so that by them
better we’ll be
WHEN YOU BLEED, I BLEED
From the Fall of 2017
I came to church today
When that great song played
Muscle memory signaled: Stand!
A heavy soul overruled that command
All around me, voices rose
Peripheral faces replaced by elbows
Joyous amens rang through the stands
Cheering, dancing, lifted hands
I sat thinking, “If I at least sing
Maybe no one will think anything”
I lengthened my torso, gulped in some air
But my throat seized up, silenced me there
Oh God, I thought. What will they think?
Here and there, a side-eye blink
Just join in, don’t make a scene
My body resisting, heart caught between
Is this not the place to bring all of me
To bear my soul? Well, technically
If you’re Sunday nice, if no one’s to blame
If doing so doesn’t ruin the game
Oh hell, I can’t stop it, I can not ignore
This chronic infection, eating my core
It’s always been there, probably from birth
This hateful attack on my life and self worth
The great song continues, claiming I’m free
But I’m restless yet still, surrounded yet lonely
I shouldn’t just sit here but I also can’t leave
So, while all around stand proud and agreed
I slip to the floor, I kneel down, I cry
Hot bitter tears, I start out with Why?
Then pray Truth will sustain me, expose all the lies
That the love of the cross will open our eyes
For a moment I did not know or care
How I looked, how they saw me there
But then I woke up, I began to witness
Uncomfortable shuffling, murmurs, hisses
A friend nearby bent over and questioned
“Why are you kneeling? How could you lessen
The win of the cross? This symbol, this token,
We stand for right now or God is heartbroken!
Men died for your freedom to worship, you know.
Don’t forget the great debt that you owe.”
I looked up, confused. What should I say?
I looked up and noticed them moving away
My row was now empty, I felt paralyzed
Hearing my family and I being criticized
“She hates our church! She’s such a distraction.”
“You dishonor our faith with your selfish action.”
“Our martyrs and preachers deserve more regard.”
“They’re making it up. They’re life’s not been that hard.”
“She’s so divisive. Excommunicate!”
“I’m disgusted by you. You ingrate.”
All around me, their voices rose
Unfriendly faces, threatening blows
With everyone standing, proud and agreed
The minister stepped in, taking the lead
“If you want our blessings, you cannot show
Disrespect for our cross. Find somewhere else to go.”
I looked to the cross. It stood under a flag.
All our righteousness, just a filthy rag.
Did I really come to church today?
I then saw a stranger coming my way
This outsider got close, leaned down and questioned
“What can I do? How I can lessen
The soul-crushing pain you’re trying to hold?”
The people now silenced by an action so bold
As he slipped to the ground, taking a knee
“You’re not alone anymore. When you bleed, I bleed.”
NOTES: I wrote this feeling disoriented by an outrage I couldn’t understand. I had once failed to stand for a patriotic song during a worship service and the backlash shocked me. How would Christ would respond to kneeling athletes? To what are we pledging our allegiance, exactly? At what cost? These are thoughts that webbed in my heart and then spilled out.