Poetry of Loss

The Plath Poetry Project is one of the most unique poetry projects around. The central event involves writing poems that are inspired by Plath poetry. The poems are accompanied by explanations of  the inspiration. PPP published a poem I wrote once before, and now they have published one I wrote based on Plath’s “For a Fatherless Son.”

by Sylvia Plath

You will be aware of an absence, presently,
Growing beside you, like a tree,
A death tree, color gone, an Australian gum tree —-
Balding, gelded by lightning—an illusion,
And a sky like a pig’s backside, an utter lack of attention.
But right now you are dumb.
And I love your stupidity,
The blind mirror of it. I look in
And find no face but my own, and you think that’s funny.
It is good for me
To have you grab my nose, a ladder rung.
One day you may touch what’s wrong —-
The small skulls, the smashed blue hills, the godawful hush.
Till then your smiles are found money.

My poem is “For an Adopted Child.”

My children were adopted by the gardener and me as babies. My brother was also adopted by my parents as a baby. Although my kids are vocal about the positive side of adoption, that does not mean that they haven’t been scarred by the process of adoption. Adoptees aren’t born when they join their adoptive families. They have lives before that–perhaps a week, three months, or six years. They know loss before most other people. In the case of my kids, they are transracial adoptees, so that brings some more baggage along with it.

We’ve come a long way from the days when even educated people told adoptees they are lucky they were adopted, but there are still plenty of unenlightened people out there saying stupid stuff, never fear. It’s not lucky to lose your birth family, no matter what the circumstances. It’s not lucky to know loss so young.

I hope you appreciate “For an Adopted Child”; it’s one of my favorites.



Filed under #AmWriting, #writerlife, Poetry, Publishing, Writing

36 responses to “Poetry of Loss

  1. Beautiful, Luanne. My son is adopted and you captured the emotion on all sides.

  2. Beautiful, Luanne. Thanks for sharing. xo

  3. Well done, Luanne. Great poem. I like the fig line. And also, I like your response when you speak about attitudes regarding adoption (It’s not lucky to know loss so young.) How very true!!! A perfect response to those who lord it over adopted kids and tell them how lucky they are.

  4. It’s a beautiful, poignant poem.

  5. This is a moving poem, Luanne. I like the line about “dark spots cast by our lamp”. I haven’t been personally involved in an adoption situation, but I know it can involve a lot of conflicting emotions.

    • I like that line, too. It is such a paradox, really, and pertinent to adoption. Adoption is a wonderful experience for the adoptive parents (at least until the dark side starts to surface), but it’s built upon such profound loss for the adoptee and for the birth parents.

  6. Wow, Luanne. I know powerful is cliché, but I can’t think of a better word right now. I feel a lot of emotion when reading this one. Certainly one to be proud of. x

  7. Very moving, beautiful poem, Luanne. A couple of friends of mine were adopted, and through them I know adoption is difficult, complicated.

    • Yes, very very complicated and it can be very hard–at least at times. I am an advocate for adoptee rights because they lived for too long without any rights to their own stories.

  8. Absolutely beautiful, Luanne.

  9. A really excellent poem and explanation, looking reality squarely in the eye.

  10. True and moving, Luanne. Thanks for sharing.
    Did I tell you that just last year my son-in-law’s former unofficial foster parents legally adopted him? He’s in his 30s–and his biological parents are alive–definitely some baggage there!

    • You did not tell me that. Wow, that is an unusual story. Lots of baggage–I agree. It relates to my mixed feelings about open adoptions–for the birth parents it must be heavenly to be able to stay involved, but for the children, it must be difficult–at least at times–until they are adults and maybe accept that it was better to have the connection and the knowledge all along. I knew someone who had an unofficial foster, but it didn’t go well when the birth mother decided she wanted her daughter back in her junior year of high school. She was not prepared to be the mother of a teen.

      • Son-in-law’s situation was different–he just had a very messed-up family life and an evil stepmother, and he left home at 16. This other couple took him in and cared for him. When he and my daughter got engaged, his birth parents (both divorced and remarried) tried to re-establish communication, and they met my daughter–but then they just showed what horrible people they are–long story, but neither showed up at the wedding. Meanwhile, unofficial foster parents and their children were all there–so they just showed they were the real family.

  11. Luanne, I lost my first response! Here I try again!

    I’m moved deeply by your poem and can see why this is one of your favourites! The undercurrent of darkness is almost haunting, yet the dichotomy to the calmed now, the past never far away. Ignorance and lack of thought by others label adopted children as lucky … I understand the hardships and loss must be something, most of us never have to experience. An important and personal subject for you to write about, Luanne!

    • Thank you, Annika, for your thoughtful comment. Yes, I felt very glad that I had the opportunity to write the poem. It’s one thing to write an essay about the conflicting views and emotions of adoption, but to write a poem about it felt more meaningful to me.

  12. Powerful and beautifully moving Luanne, I’m proud of you too!

  13. That was a beautiful poem, Luanne!

  14. Very beautiful. I deeply enjoyed reading it. If you want to read some poems about nature, check out my blog- https://bloomingthoughts.home.blog
    And keep up the good work

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