Issue 1.2 – Poetry

Let us pausefor a moment and pray. (1)


Ode to the Ladies of the Teen Living Program 

Do you know that I can see you? 

No, not your hairstyle or your new sneakers. 

Not your jeans or your freshly filled acrylic nails. 

I see you. 


I recognize the frustration and aggravation 

caused by years of deprivation, so much alienation. 

Always the one being turned back, shut down, and left behind. 

Underneath that tough exterior and the 

veneer of thinly veiled hostility I see fragility. 

A brittle heart, a broken spirit, dreams crushed, 

like oh so many robin‟s eggs… 

see you. 


Do you realize I can see you? 

Your eyes don’t lie, whether clear, sky blue or 

turned earth brown, they tell it all. 

Your eyes stand bare as un-curtained windows 

to your soul. Ghosts of mistreatments past 

flicker by the panes of your pupils as you suck your 

teeth, fold your arms, roll your eyes and SIGH 

I can hear things too. 

I hear the silence in the empty caves of your longing. 

Places where too few kind words were spoken. 

I can hear the echoing invective you could not escape. 


see you. 


Don’t think that I cannot see you. 

Your skin comes in so many flavors; vanilla, caramel, chocolate, 

espresso. Yet your stories all taste the same. 

Bitter tales of trauma, terror, and woe left indelible stains upon your psyche. 

I see your skin. 

Untouched by thoughtful pats, no hugs or safe caresses. 

Skin accustomed to bruises, welts, and tears. 

I see your skin, stretched by children, pierced by jewelry, tattooed by ink. 

Your skin is now an atlas, an owner‟s manual, an autobiography 

Of things you dare not speak. 

I watch you as you carry your babies, your burdens 

your belongings in your arms until you fear 

there is no room for anything else. 

Holding on tighter to what you can see and letting go 

of the things you cannot even imagine. 



You are not invisible. 

It’s not so easy being seen.

It is very difficult to be peeled back to the pulp of your need, 

the core of your pain, the essence of your vulnerability. 

It is grueling to see so much. So many things left undone and unattended. 

It is tiresome to endlessly calculate the complex 

equations of your situation and end up with no known solution. 

Sometimes, I curse my eyes and I 

long to be like those who live in 

blissful ignorance, somehow untouched by these touching scenes. 

There are times when I almost understand 

their inexcusable blindness and I long to join them… 

That is, until I see you again.

image1 (1)Tahji Mumford was born and raised in Boston, Massachusetts. She graduated from Massasoit Community College with an Associates of Science in Nursing. She is married with four adult children and one grandchild. Her interests are writing, cooking and the treatment of individuals with mental health disorders. “Ode to the girls of the teen living program” is her first published work.

One Comment Add yours

  1. Sandra Hubbarf says:

    I Loved it. Beautiful words


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