A Sestina about Resilience
By Judith O’Connell Hoyer
This is what my father told me,
“Use it up, wear it out, make it do
or do without, my friend.”
In the Great Depression times were bad.
He remembered when everyone was poor.
Lucky he was to find work selling shoes.
Funny, he loved to polish my saddle shoes.
It was a Sunday night ritual he performed for me.
He never considered us to be poor.
It was the simple things he chose to do.
His mood was always sweet and never bad.
No wonder so many called him “friend.”
He was my mother’s best friend.
Dad was like an old soft shoe-
our comfort and protection from all things bad.
When Lawrence Welk was on T.V. he’d dance with me.
My mother was jealous yet there was nothing I could do.
You could say her sense of fun was poor.
For her it was a challenge to be one of the working poor.
She always wanted to befriend
fashionable women with bouffant hair-dos
and expensive high-heeled shoes.
My mother saw me
as somehow lacking, neither good or bad,
as if my blood type was bad,
the quality inferior and poor.
She never knew how to love me.
She wanted to buy my friendship
with dresses and Capezio shoes.
She didn’t really know what to do.
I tried but there was nothing I could do.
It always ended badly.
I could never fill her shoes.
My grades in school were never poor.
I had lots of friends.
There was nothing the matter with me.
I never think of myself as bad.
I know my do’s and dont’s and give to the poor.
When visiting friends I take my shoes off at the door.
I am a former school psychologist for a small district in Massachusetts. For the past five years I have been active in a poetry workshop that meets in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Recent poetry credits include “The Worcester Review,” “Naugatuck River Review,” “Pudding Magazine,” “Off the Coast,” and “Small Portions Journal.” My manuscript,”Bits and Pieces Set Aside,” is a finalist in the 2015 Slate Roof Chapbook Contest.