Telling

Me at age nine.

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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This entry was written by Kathi, posted on Tuesday, December 08, 2009 at 02:12 pm, filed under Art, Creating Art, Life, Living with, despite & beyond cancer, Making A Difference, Play and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink . Post a comment below or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

11 Responses to “Telling”

  1. What a great essay. I especially like the very last sentence. I’ve said a similar thing about my BRCA1 mutation. You did a great job of reading it on the air too – maybe some moonlighting is in order! ;)

  2. Thanks, Teri! Who knows? Hope all is well with you.

  3. That was a fantastic essay. Although I can not know what it’s like to face what you and your Sistahs have (at least not as of press time), I have instantly become an instant fan and had to look you up. Your words were truly inspirational, hopeful, ironic, wry and smart.
    If I ever did have to cope w/ the process of diagnosis/treatment/”recovery”– it would be immensely comforting and to know that someone like you was writing, communicating and part of a vibrant community. You have undoubtedly helped thousands of ladies (and probably men who need a better understanding, sometimes). Take care and thank you for sharing– telling. – EoB

  4. Hello….Maybe if you submitted more you would have more broadcasted. You are OBVIOUSLY a very intelligent and gifted woman. I do understand the time factor though. Unfortunately we get caught up in making a living more than actually living. At least I do. And that is so OLD.

    Oh to have the time to be more creative.

  5. Erin, thank you so much! I’m touched that you took the trouble to find me and share your kind words. Hope you keep coming back to visit.

  6. Thanks, Coco, you always know how to cheer me on. I make as many ripples in the pond as I can, and they lead to other & bigger ponds over time. Remember, this blog is not even a year old yet! I’m going to throw the blog a cyber birthday party on New Year’s Day to celebrate bigger & better things in the future.

  7. I love what you had to say about real breast cancer awareness not being about a color or a month. My sentiments exactly!

  8. K- You did a fantastic job with the radio broadcast! It’s like you were a natural =) And, in a somewhat sick and twisted way, I like the medi-christmas tree. Who knew your standard pills could turn into works of art!

  9. LOL on the pill tree, Kristin. I aim for sick & twisted. I did it at first as a wry comment on how I’ve been getting through the season. You know, sort of a “deck the halls with whatever you have on hand” kinda thing.

  10. How lovely to hear your voice! Ordinary women just trying to get through each day, doing the best they can under extraordinary circumstances. My heroes!

  11. Thanks, Elaine. They’re my heroes, too.

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