Monday, February 3, 2020

Poem Born of Empathy for the Bryant Family's Tragedy

I've been meaning to post this poem, which I wrote on the tragic day that Kobe Bryant and his daughter Gianna left Earth together, along with their friends. As a parent, not even a basketball fan, this tragic news evoked my tears of empathy and words of compassion for the grieving families. Here are those words, as usual, in a poem:


Arrivals and Departures
(On the passing of Kobe And Gianna Bryant) 
By Susan L. Lipson

They arrived separately, 
almost three decades apart,
to begin their intersecting journeys,
to celebrate living. 

They became celebrated themselves,
as they toured their destinations,
separately and together,
making memories and sharing dreams.

They departed together, 
when Life rerouted them
into a detour to the Divine,
disrupting flight patterns,
cancelling plans,
and leaving their loved ones waiting at the gates,

forlorn and incredulous.

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

A New Poem that Clarifies Why I Had Bladder Problems During First Grade



     I know that the title of this blog post sounds strange, but you'll understand it once you've read my newest poem about one of my oldest memories:


The Star’s Shadow
by Susan L. Lipson


I stared upward at the gold, foil star
stuck proudly below my bitten fingernails,
to the right of my one wrinkled thumb,
and now held aloft in my first-grade teacher’s    
tight grip.

“Look at this! This is yesterday’s star for spelling!” she announced.
Everyone looked at my treasured sign of specialness.
Except me.
I looked at the teacher’s downturned lips and her wrinkled nose. 
My skinny arm trembled in her grasp.


She clucked her tongue and asked, for everyone to hear:
“Why did you leave it on your hand? Don’t you wash every day?”
Everyone looked at our teacher’s grimace.
Except me.
I looked down at my desk, where a big teardrop had just plopped
onto the math quiz she had just delivered,
marked with a few red x’s, and no smiley face.

had washed my hand.
But I had washed around the star.

“Children,” she asked with scary sweetness, still gripping my wrist,
“remember our lesson on the importance of cleanliness?”
Everyone nodded.
Except me.
I was clenching my teeth, trying not to blink,
so that tears wouldn’t spill.

My teacher clucked her tongue again,
dropped my hand, and strutted off to the next desk,
to deliver the next graded math paper.

Hiding my right hand under my desk,
I pinched off the star,
folded it into itself,
hid it in my pocket,
and then tried to rub off
its grayish, adhesive outline.
I wanted to go wash off the star’s shadow in the girls’ bathroom.
But I was too afraid to raise my hand to ask permission.



Have you ever dug into your past as I have in this poem, to examine the profundity of relatively mundane moments that influenced your evolution? Try walking in your smallest shoes again so you can see your little child self with new empathy.