A Poet's Life

Mona Bethke

Home / 365 Days of Transformation / January 28, 2017 – The Birth of a Poet

January 28, 2017 – The Birth of a Poet

sacred-sounds-copyMy world of Poetry. My passion. My love.

I was 10 when I truly fell in love with words. At the age of 11, I wrote an essay about being black and white, which I read at a general assembly in school. My mom was so proud of me, she bought me a “diary” and assured me that whatever I wrote in it would be personal. I wrote about my confusions, wondered how come boys didn’t like me, and spewed about how much I hated myself and my dad. At the age of 12, my brother was born. I was envious of him, because my dad finally had his “son.” I wrote furiously for a few months after he was born and I kept my diary between my mattress and box spring, hiding my secrets from prying eyes. It was also the first time I’d written about wanting to die.

I came home from school one day and my mom was sitting on the couch, my diary in her lap, a sad/angry look on her face as she fingered her Virginia Slims cigarette. I very clearly remember the feeling in the pit of my stomach knowing she had read my deepest personal thoughts and feelings. She informed me that she called my dad and told him he needed to come home because she didn’t know what to do. The terror that rose up in me is something I cannot describe to this day.

When my dad came home, we all sat in the living room and for several moments there was an unbearable silence. He was looking at the inside front cover of my diary where I had written that I could not handle living in my house and wanting to go to sleep and never wake up. He slowly raised his head, and in a tone of voice that was as close to a whisper as my dad had ever come, he said, “I feed you, I clothe you, I put a roof over your head. If you really want to do what you wrote here you will go to hell. It’s a sin. I am disappointed in how selfish and self-centered you are. This would kill your mom.” I thought for a moment and looked him in the eye. “Dad, how would it make you feel?” He shook his head and replied, “If you want to be so ungrateful, go ahead, I still have my son.”

Ironically, those words compelled me to stick around and stay strong through everything I was enduring. I promised myself, I would be here, on this earth, in this man’s life, just to spite him. I also felt like I needed to protect my little brother. The jealousy and animosity I had toward him went away within three months after his birth when my dad left for Vietnam. The year and a half that my dad was gone, and our little family was comprised of three members, were some of my happiest times.

I worked hard to forgive my mom, but I look on the bright side and realize that what she did, compelled me to write poems. I could hide my true feelings and what they meant in a poem in a way that only I would understand the meaning. That ability, that gift, helped me over and over again throughout the years, way into adulthood.

Now when I write my poems, I write them with clarity, because I understand I no longer have to hide behind wordplay. I get to use it to express myself and my views. I do not alter how I approach my poems based on possible judgment from the reader or listener. I’ve taken my poetry a step further by performing it as spoken word on the stage. If you want to judge my subject matter, my style, my form, etc., then clearly I’ve accomplished what I set out to do in that I’ve gotten under your skin and caused you to react.

Stay Tuned…#365daysoftranformation

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