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CATCH ME AS I FALL by Sara O. Held

My beloved mother, Sara O. Held, passed away five years ago this month…

She left me with so many gifts, which, since her death, I have gathered into my heart hoping these treasures will continue to unfold as I continue on my life’s journey without her.

Pictured is Sara O. Held as photographed by her daughter Janavi
She taught me how live close to the earth, to love the light and embrace the shadows when necessary. She taught me how to cook without recipes, to dance without choreography, and how to body surf. She was a master gardener and I wasn’t, but I loved to follow her around as she mused over her plants and vegetables She told me once that when suffering comes don’t live within it all the time, but step out of it and take a look around. 

She read to me as a child, and instilled in me a profound love of the written and spoken word. She was a brilliant editor and made certain her daughters’ pronunciation of all those precious words were correct! She had a wicked sense of humor and sometimes made me laugh so hard my ribs ached. 

My mother: writer, editor, publisher, poet, gardener, and lover of the natural word. She was my friend, my hiking partner, my cheerleader, she was my mother and I miss  her.

In her last months she told me, “If I can just touch a tree everyday I’ll be fine.”

She also taught me that she loved her daughters more than anything else in this world.

Introduction to my mother’s poem:

    My mother moved to the garden island of Kauai in Hawaii during the summer of 2000, from her comfortable home in Santa Fe, New Mexico. She was in her late 60’s and she had never even been to Hawaii. She was offered a job as the head editor of a small publishing company. It was an extraordinary act of courage, as she was starting a new life in an unknown place, by herself, at and age when many people would be thinking of retiring. This poem contemplates that act of uprooting and moving to an unfamiliar place on her own. As well, it is a poem about leaving, about moving on, and so she also remembers her mother’s death.

Pictured is Sara O. Held as photographed by her daughter Janavi

Catch Me as I Fall
by Sara O. Held 

Say goodbye to everyone
Let me march up hill with pipes
Let me lead the parade
I’ll be caught by a hundred hands
Coming down the hill I think, be serious
After all you have a name,
even a little property, a reputation, and habits
not all of them bad
I have a table that was my mother’s
I see the vase with dried flowers
she wouldn’t have understood
and no, I never said goodbye to her
She lay on the bed like
a wrinkled leaf just landing
She fell out of reach
all of her gone

I’m still marching
but in no certain direction
Each step is forward
printed carefully in sand
and washed into a soft smear
by the next wave
Everything parades on ahead
the curved rim of sea and sand
trees bent away from the wind
walkers, children, dogs, fishermen
What made me do it?
I laugh to think of it
What made me leave
my hearth and fire, my snug little house?
What made me unwind my old wrappings
and come out in the sun?

I left an unmade bed and dishes in the sink
that follow me gnawing at my rest
Someone else will have to sweep out the dust
and spider webs and mouse nests
Another woman will wrestle with broken screens
and build a proper lean-to for chickens
with fresh straw and a dirt floor swept clean
I left my old walking shoes
for a woman with daily purposes
I left an old trunk to be whispered over
full of things I once thought I understood.
Pictured is Sara O. Held as photographed by her daughter Janavi

Janavi Held started writing poetry and wandering around with her father’s camera as a child.  At the age of nineteen, she began practicing Bhakti yoga. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Goddard College where she studied poetry, photography, and media studies.  She is on the verge of releasing her first book Letters to my Oldest Friend: A Book of Poetry and Photography. 

~If you are interested in seeing your poetry appear in this blog, or submitting a poem by a woman that has inspired you, please click here for submission guidelines. I greatly look forward to hearing from you!~


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