A Lost Child



Please forgive this prologue to my poem, it’s necessary.

Some things are hard to write about.  Some things are hard to read. As a poet I don’t control what inspires me, words are the canvass, life the brush, and emotion the color.  I believe poetry and passion are gifts from God, as is everything in our lives. – Everything. I want you to know that the following story is true, and it is sad.

I was only in my second or third year as an Accident Investigator for a police department in a large Midwestern city when this happened.   She was eleven, holding hands with her younger sister as they crossed the crosswalk. The notes you will read about were folded and apparently kept in her little purse. I surmise they were notes passed between her classmates. The poem’s ending describes an image of this girls mother that will stay with me forever.  This memory is one of the most powerful, prevalent emotions that I have ever endured in this life.


A Lost Child

Disappointments will never come.
Glory of a heart’s dance sent forever
to the faint shadows of what might have been.
Her life song once trumpeted by legions of Cherubim,
now lays hallowed, trapped in the distant echos of memory.

Her little papers flapped in the breeze.
Their comeliness waved me to hither and see.
Duty eroded compassion, a grisly task prevailed
and only my glances could answer their beckoning wail.
And then my flashbulbs bit into the cool autumn night’s air.

Flash!  An old burgundy pick up truck.
Flash!  Bloodied clothes and a medic’s gloves.
Flash!  A child’s purse, strap snapped and dangling.
Flash!  Little folded notes, stark against the pavement.
Flash!  A lost night, a lost child, a mother’s love denied…

Odd the quiet that ruled this street,
Once bustling with the business of busy.
Yellow crime scene tape kept us, swept us within,
while witnesses cried that sisters held hands at death.
Giggling, and smiling, running through the striped crosswalk.

The little one thrown clear by brunt,
the other went under, a quick loss of life.
And her notes hailed me now, screaming of love,
amidst the spilled contents of her purse’s mysteries.
They laid aflutter, holding the secrets of a sixth grade girl.

A voice barely whispered over the tape,
“What should I do,” under the soft breeze bellow.
“She was my daughter.  They called and said she’s dead.”
My words wouldn’t come.  I lifted the tape, grabbed her hand,
and walked her to the middle of that closed lamp-lit intersection.

I gave her a paper bag.
I watched her silhouette kneel
in that barren street of scars and tears,
to pick up those flapping notes and other things
that filled the life of this dear young child.
When my soul unfroze from that sight,
I knelt down beside her beauty
and helped collect them.

A kite is the last poem you’ve written
So you give it to the wind,
But you don’t let it go.
        –Leonard Cohen

The form of this poem:  This poem is written in a visual form, some call it “shape” or “concrete” poetry.  Mine is intensely simple, showing nothing more than 45 degree trailing edges.  If you didn’t notice them then it means I did a pretty good job as a poet.  And if you cried like I did, then it was an even better job.  Thank you for visiting my blog and peeking at my soul.  

© 2011 John Richter

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About johnallenrichter

I am an aspiring Poet and adorer of life, a conqueror of nothing. However I am a champion curator of truth and friendship and hold both of those things most dearly to my heart. Welcome to my mind's eye. I hope you will enjoy what you may find and please know that you have a friend here. View all posts by johnallenrichter

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