by Nomi Kaim
Instructions for Later Years
Write a terrible poem.
Go ahead. Do it.
Write it in broken
stanzas, or maybe none at all.
Write it as though you had never lost your voice.
Write it as if the truly pitiful, deeply inadequate words you have now
are the only words you ever had to begin with.
as though it were meant to convey anything less
than the inexplicable shock of what your life has become.
Write something defeated,
Do it again tomorrow.
If I tell you my small story,
Will you meet it with rebuff?
See, I was born with something missing:
I was never good enough.
I was different from the others.
Not some “diamond in the rough”;
Just a child thinking backwards,
A child never good enough.
I roamed the edges of the playground,
Drifting, like a piece of fluff,
Needing something soft to land on;
Never, ever good enough.
I fought harder than the others,
Though I wanted to give up.
In the end it didn’t matter:
My fight was never good enough.
I got sicker than the others.
I found neither work nor love.
Every day I woke to silence,
Longing to be good enough.
So I braced myself to be deserted,
But some stuck by when life got tough.
And I guess I’ll never know the reason:
My life was never good enough.