Billie Holladay Skelley
My Childhood Is a Mixture
by Billie Holladay Skelley

My childhood is a mixture
of what I cannot recall,
of what I cannot forget,
and what I want to remember.

I try very hard, but the truth is
I can never recall
my father who died when I was only two.
No matter how I search my memories,
he has no face, no voice, or touch
I can recall.

All I find when I search
is just a void
left by death, time, and fate.

I try very hard, but the truth is
I can never forget
a man who lived nearby till I was eleven.
No matter how I try to repress my memories,
his face, his voice, and his touch remain.
I cannot forget.

Even though I never search for it
another void remains
created by weakness, desire, and betrayal.

I try very hard, and the truth is
I do remember
my mother who tried to fill the voids.
No matter how often darker memories surface,
her kind face, soft voice, and soothing touch
I can always remember.

When I search here I find a sense of contentment
from a love
enriched by kindness, compassion, and caring.

My childhood is a mixture
of what I cannot recall,
of what I cannot forget,
and what I want to remember forever.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author, early elementary school, Kentucky (late 1950s).

Billie Holladay Skelley3

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Billie Holladay Skelley is a registered nurse by profession and received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. She has written health-related articles for both professional and lay journals. Since her retirement from the nursing profession, she has enjoyed focusing her writing efforts on different topics and disciplines for various forums. The creative process she used in this poem involved sifting through childhood occurrences that happened long ago, and stratifying those memories by the ones that still linger to the present day.