Lambs in Spring
Little white balls of beautiful fluff,
Bouncing and prancing and that kind of stuff.
Baaing and whimpering here and there
Sometimes they’ll do nothing but stop and stare.
Crying for mother on a lovely spring day,
Mother comes running; decides to stay.
Bounding and twisting round and round,
Looking for something no other lamb’s found.
This is the first poem I remember writing.
I was 10 years old at the time and my form teacher at school had issued a challenge during an English lesson to write a poem for spring. It would have been this time of year, in fact.
I wrote it. Handed it in.
A few days later the teacher was distributing the marks and asking some of us to read our poems to the class.
On my paper he’d written “Very Good!” but in front of the class he asked me, “Are you sure you didn’t copy this from somewhere?”
I was a tender and insecure child being raised in a broken home and in the shadow of my mother’s operatic glory. To have the light shone on me at all was difficult enough but to be accused, perhaps even in jest, that the work I’d handed in was not my own totally mortified me. I defended myself, of course, and he seemed to accept it, but I have never forgotten how ill it made me feel to have someone question my integrity as a writer.
I know this poem by memory. To me it is one of my greatest early writing achievements. If I ever publish a proper book of my best poems this will have pride of place on the first page.
All other writing has sprung from this creative moment. It was the first time I saw myself as a writer and, ironically, the first time (and hopefully the last time) I was accused of plagiarism.
There was a huge gap of time before I was able to see myself as a writer in adulthood. Though I kept journals and occasionally wrote poetry I had disassociated when I was growing up so pursuing dreams and cultivating my talents was beyond my comprehension or ability.
It wasn’t until a kindly woman, my boss at the time, gave me a good, swift kick in the proverbial derriere (I was in my late 20s) that I began to awaken from my deep creative malaise and see myself as a writer, perhaps for the first time. I was working as her administrative assistant in the corporate relations department of a real estate association, and she saw something in me she thought needed cultivating. However, she had to threaten to fire me before I was able to wake up enough to see it myself.
This incredible woman waded through the muck of my unconsciousness to find something long hidden and almost lost, and gave me the opportunity to reclaim it. She taught me how to build an employee newsletter ~ research, write, edit, produce. It started at four pages and, as I got the hang of it, quickly grew to eight pages. Circulation about 150. I learned quickly and loved doing it. In time I was promoted to Editor of the association newsletter ~ a weekly publication circulated to more than 25,000 realtors in the Greater Toronto Area.
I suppose I share this to demonstrate the difference people can make in our lives, and to demonstrate that if we can only get out of our own way we might resurrect an important piece of our life puzzle.
Had my school teacher been more supportive and understood me and my life situation better he might not have been so free with his accusation and I might have had more confidence to pursue this obvious talent. There was no one at home to do this, so left to my own devices, confused and with nowhere to turn, my only alternative was to let it go. Even as a child it hurt too much to have my integrity questioned.
But, as I’ve learned, it takes just one person to see potential and show you what’s possible for you to start believing in yourself. And, as I am learning again in these middle years while pursuing a long-lost equestrian dream with a new coach, this can happen at any time in your life.
Thanks for visiting …
©Dorothy Chiotti, Aimwell CreativeWorks 2014
Written in response to the Weekly Writing Challenge: Writerly Reflections