Susan Macdowell Eakins "Portrait of Mary
& Elizabeth Macdowell" (detail) 1879
I struggle so with words
and with each stitch of thread
you tell a story in their chains.
Why are we so different dear sister?
I am a recluse peering through
the curtains at life outside my window.
You wrap yourself in your knitted wool
and face the world with a smile
whether it is friend or foe that greets you.
With tongue glued by secrets I whither
on a vine I nurture each time I retreat
into the cracked shell of childhood.
You were there for each strike of word and palm,
but father was never able to beat
your spirit into submission.
You are a lesson I have yet to learn.
I paint myself with someday praying
I can move beyond its camouflage into freedom.
©Susie Clevenger 2013
At Real Toads Margaret offered beautiful artwork as inspiration for our poetry. The above painting by Susan Macdowell Eakins inspired my poem.