Cheryl W. Robinson, Once


Cheryl W. Robinson

I bet I was happy and smiling when I first saw your face, believing it was tender and kind

I wonder if you saw the luster in my eyes yearning to feel like I belonged to you …

Now, I know that you really didn’t see me at all

Without harmony you chose to sing me lull-a-goodbyes rocked with jealousy and envy

Of course, I was too timid or ashamed to ask anyone if what I was feeling was common

Smart enough to know — it wasn’t

Instead I tried to pick up the chorus, the notes were too sharp and finally I just fell flat

But you just kept on singing the same song over and over and over and over again

Until I just held my breath and stopped listening

Ultimately my hopeful spirit fell silent and it’s possible I slowly stopped living

Placing a steel stanchion in my feelings, building a limited shelter of trust while the one

I loved continued to clothe me in shade

I say East, you go West, I speak like a city girl, you yell everything

It took fifty-two years for me to embrace that something seemingly simple was impossible

That is unstitching this weave of familial dysfunction

It’s hard, really hard to fathom how and why you deliberately tried not to love me

Wasn’t I bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh?

In spite of the depth of my pain, I am refusing to accept in your death that your maternal care and concern was completely absent in my life

Instead, with a clamor of hope I imagine I’ll see you again and join you in peace

We’ll talk and laugh like moms and daughters do while dining on a platter of forgiveness with a scoop of understanding that we’ll both be thankful to finally serve and receive

Until then, I’ll admire your beauty in a silver frame although you’re always in my mirror

And when I clasp your favorite pearls around my neck, I hear you softly saying,

“Oh, baby girl I love the way they look on you. You’re beautiful. I love you!”

Trust me, I know you never said this, I know …

Not even once

Cheryl W. Robinson is a freelance writer who endeavors to write the truth, especially her own, to inspire, motivate and encourage others. She is an alumni of the prestigious Hurston/Wright Writers Week Workshop. Currently, Cheryl is a staff writer for Epitome Magazine and has also shared her talents with several online and other print publications, including RollingOut Magazine.


  1. Bonita Harris on April 30, 2018 at 6:37 pm

    This poem is awesome! And it’s very touching. To see and realize that family love is unfortunately becoming a negative and untruthful situation and to see the encouragement of Cheryl Robinson to not let it put and keep grudges and bitterness in your heart. And most of all to still love your family. Thank you Cheryl!! This helps in a very positive way.

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