Back when I was a natural blonde, I enjoyed a brief and unexpected moment of fame as a nationally-broadcast poet. Unbeknownst to me, my mother had submitted a poem I’d written to a television program that was broadcast on Sunday mornings on CBS. I don’t remember what it was called or who moderated it, except that it tells you something about my mother and me that if we got up late on Sunday, we might skip church to stay home and watch this program. What I do remember is the mellifluous voice of the moderator as he read each poem that was accepted to the program as though it meant something profound to him personally.
I also remember the night I made up this poem, which was called, “On Midnight Pond.” (No, I’m not sure if I still have a copy of it.) I was sick enough to have a fever, was not sleeping well, and might have been a tad delirious. My mother, bless her, had gotten up in the wee hours to see how I was and to see if she could help me feel better. She was frequently unreliable, my mother, because of mental illness, and therefore infrequently tender. So when she was, I cherished those moments, storing them instantly in my heart to be recalled when she was in her usual persecuted, depressed mode. I must have felt particularly inspired that feverish night, because I extemporized a poem about a doe and a fawn standing in the moonlight, which was, of course, a metaphor for our present tender moment.
My mother gave me one of those looks that I would receive from time to time when I had done something really clever in her presence — a look of frightened astonishment that she would hurriedly attempt to soften with praise, as though it were too weighty a responsibility to raise a clever child and she feared she might muck it up. It would have been more comforting if she hadn’t been frightened of me, even if only for a moment. But I hoped that at least my poem might reassure her that I wasn’t going to sprout wings, a tail, and three heads. In any case, she asked me to recite the poem again so she could write it down. And without telling me, she typed it out the next day and sent it off to the poetry program. It was accepted, to our everlasting delight, and when we sat and listened to it being read on national television that Sunday morning, I vividly recall feeling humbled and awed that something I did could be transformed into magic by grownups I had never met.
During this past Pink Month, I wrote an essay about my personal interpretation of breast cancer awareness. I sent it off to our local National Public Radio station, WRNI, which has continued NPR’s essay series, “This I Believe.” And to my delight, it was accepted. The moderator of the series, Frederick Reamer, wrote a perfect, spot-on introduction for it, and I recorded it at the radio studio last month. Tomorrow, it will be broadcast twice during Morning Edition and once during All Things Considered, at WRNI radio, FM 102.7, at 6:35 & 8:35 a.m., and at 5:44 p.m. You can also listen to it here: “Telling.” You can read the text by clicking on the picture to the left.
Wow! Two media broadcasts in forty-six years! At this rate, I probably won’t become a famous media personality, but that’s okay. A little validation goes a long way.
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