I made a list of fears
On Motherhood: Broken orange crayons, my son, and the things I don't know
I read a poem about obsessions, which prompted me to make a list of mine. My son was the first on the list. The sun was the third. I remember wanting to add fireflies to the list but wondered what was the difference between something I loved, something that put me in awe or made me feel good versus something I was truly obsessed with. I still don’t really know. I also put writing, water, and the sound and smell of trees. Grief made the list and thinking about it now, maybe I should’ve also added yearning. Maybe obsessions aren’t always things we love, but things we fear.
The further I went down the list, the more I kept coming back to my son. The obsessions turned to my son turned to fear turned to my son, and back again. My fears existed far off into the future, hovering, hanging before me like a sort of emptiness that is both seen and felt. So I followed the list of obsessions that turned to fears until they became a poem, and here it is.
Broken Orange Crayons
This evening I made a list of fears
and you were on it.
Not the you that is here,
but the you that is growing,
the you that is grown,
the you that is leaving.
And phone calls, and quiet, and an empty room,
and waiting, memory, anonymity, aging,
the shirt you left in the dryer and the things I don’t know.
The distance of you, the loss of you,
the hollow void that empties me
and fills me all at once.
I could forget all these things
and slip deep into the present
where you are coloring
a setting sun in my lap
with a broken orange crayon
I’ve taped back together.
But forgetting also made the list.
How do I hold on while letting go?
I try to be more me and less you,
but darling, that’s the very thing
I am afraid of.
Write a list of your obsessions. Notice the patterns. What’s at the top of the list? Did you write mostly of the things you love or the things you’re afraid of? Maybe both, maybe neither. Maybe love and fear have nothing to do with it. I don’t really know and that’s why I’m asking you. Leave a comment if you care to share, even if it’s just one thing, I’d love to read it.