Sink or Swim

Written for:  Wednesday Muse #7 – “A Beautiful Mess”

“Today we are going to explore the Japanese art of Kintsugi and how to make the most of breaks, cracks, mistakes. Kintsugi is the repairing of a break or a crack with gold. It was created in the 5th century when a shogun broke his favorite tea cup. He didn’t want to throw the cup away but he wanted to continue to use it.


In the 16th century , Japanese tea ceremony users rebelled against the taste of opulence instead of prizing simple items marked by time and usage. The glue or epoxy had been used for centuries – mixing gold with the sap of the rhus tree. Instead of discarding marred or broken objects, the cracks and lines were filled with gold, thus calling attention to the lines made by time and rough use. the art of kintsukuroi emphasizes the beauty of the breaks turning the problem into beauty.

I would like you all to write a poem in any form about the healing in your life – how you have repaired the cracks and breaks, about your scars, how you have triumphed or are trying to persist. How you let the light shine through the cracks, how you grow stronger.”

Where is the glue for mending
a damaged heart? Dad’s death
tore at me, increasing my
already anxious state. Each day
I recalled another skill or
moral he taught me. Watching
Mom cope after sixty-four years
of marriage chipped off new
pieces, set the statue crumbling.

Mom insisted on staying in Florida
despite our plea for her
to live in New York with family.
No friends remained, and she was
chained to the house, deteriorating
more each time we saw her. Speech
was difficult, aphasia apparent.
Her temper rose to roof level.

When she needed 24-hour care,
she fell.  Near hysterics, I found
a wonderful social worker–
all through correspondence. Place
was lovely, people caring. She hated
it. Frustration over being incapable
of speaking a coherent sentence
was unbearable for all of us.

One night, I got the dreaded phone call.
Mom had passed away. My guts knotted.
I had been allotted one set
of parents. I felt like an orphan.
My sister and I became closer,
the family smaller. I still feel
my body and heart breaking; I am
not quite whole, filled with
with trepidation of succumbing
to nothingness, but I cope by living.
is the glue for mending
a mind?

About purplepeninportland

I am a freelance poet, born and bred in Brooklyn, New York. I live with my husband, John, and two charming rescue dogs–Marion Miller and Murphy. We spent eight lovely years in Portland, OR, but are now back in New York. My goal is to create and share poetry with others who write, or simply enjoy reading poetry. I hope to touch a nerve in you, and feel your sparks as well.
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11 Responses to Sink or Swim

  1. Hélène - Willow Poetry says:

    Life is sad when we lose our parents. Yes, we become orphans. You expressed it beautifully in this poem, I suppose the glue is the time it takes to heal our grief. Thank you for sharing this, Sara.


  2. 1sojournal says:

    Really like this Sara. To me, writing has been the glue that kept me together. My father died at 69, but Mom lived until 91. She never stopped missing him. And I miss both of them. I like the very real fact that the passing of our parents feels like being an orphan. It does that in so many ways.



  3. kanzensakura says:

    Beautiful. Grief can tear us apart and sometimes we can never be mended. A truly heart rending poem.


  4. Carrie V. H. says:

    That is such a hard loss losing both your parents. My heart goes out to you Sara. A beautiful reflective poem of your journey in loss and pressing onward.


  5. rothpoetry says:

    It is difficult to make decisions about aging parents. You did the best you could under the circumstances. We had similar issues with parents in Alberta and we in NC, that are now passed on.


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