Poetry Assignment #4: What Do You Miss Most

Germaine, your poem this week is quite striking-so heartfelt and full of captivating imagery, right from the start.

I miss the sun replaced by fluorescent lights
flickering in my cell. I miss the sky, a kinder
blue than the sapphire police lights still
spinning in my memory. I miss the moon,
a gentler shine than the guards’ badges
as steely as their blue eyes piercing me.

You continue with even more powerful images that describe your isolation.

I’m smoke trapped in a jar, a star behind
a wall of clouds. I’m a garden of shadows.

Impressive. Your love for poetry during your college days really shows through. But I’m especially taken by the lines that confess your true “want.”

More than the sun, the sky, or the moon,
I want my son. I’ve become nothing but
want, but my want and I are locked up.

A powerful turn where you truly open up to the emotional core of the poem and begin speaking to your son directly.

Son: see my hand still tying the red shoelaces
on your silver Nikes. Taste the Rocky Road
ice cream dripping from our chins. Watch
us watching Batman on our lumpy couch.
Remember when I was your hero? Hear
us still singing our favorite hip-hop songs-
lyrics of lives we knew by heart. Remember
the plastic handcuffs you played with, not
the metal handcuffs that took me away.

Those vivid and tenderly rendered details really bring your son to life. They let me miss and mourn him as you do when you reveal that he died while you were jailed. You close the poem perfectly by grounding it in imagery that lets us feel your sorrow and emptiness.

Words are my only escape now. In this poem,
I turn iron bars into shadows I walk through
to see your eyes shine, hold your lifeless face
in my palms, kiss your cold forehead goodbye.
In this poem, I curse God and myself-wail
my amens, join the sobbing choir at church.
In this poem I turn back time, stop the bullet,
draw blood back into your body. In this poem,
I save you and you save me from myself.

Richard Blanco