Hyatt-Blankman (2)1
Letting Go
by Michele Hyatt-Blankman

I was different from the start.
My head was too big.
She’ll never live, mom was told.
I did.
She’ll never walk or talk, mom was told.
I did.
But I wore my pain.
They called me pumpkin head.
They called me an alien,
like the ones you see in old movies.
They tapped me on my head in class.
No one saw. No one believed me.
No one will want me, I thought.
But someone did.
My husband, My soulmate.
He didn’t care, he said.
But I carried the pain.
I was told I’d have no children.
But I did. Two healthy sons.
But I carried the pain.
The pain of a pumpkin head.

And then I saw myself.
In a simple, sweet painting
at the MoMA.
I didn’t laugh at her.
I didn’t judge her.
I didn’t touch her head.
And surrounding me were people.
Including children.
They weren’t laughing. Or pointing.
They asked their parents about her.
They smiled at her beauty.

And I did, too.

IMAGE: The author at the Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York City during 2013.  She is standing in front of the painting “Untitled” by Japanese artist Yoshitoma Nara (2000).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: In 1953, I was born with hydrocephalus. I was shunted when I was three. All my life I have had an enlarged head, but much more disproportionate to my body when I was young. As a result, throughout school I was mercilessly bullied and teased. A couple of years ago, my husband and I visited my son in New York City, where he works for Houghton-Mifflin. We went with him to the MoMA, where he called my attention to a big portrait, “Untitled,” by Yoshitomo Nara. We laughed and I posed in front of it. I felt at that moment I had gone full-circle…some 59 years later. This poem is based on the moment of seeing the portrait of a life I have since outgrown.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Michele Hyatt-Blankman began writing stories and poetry from a very early age, beginning a lifelong interest in both. She expanded her interests to journalism at Marshall University, where she was a Graduate Teaching Assistant. Following years in public relations and copy editing, she now spends time at home with her husband Jon, a retired school teacher, trying to keep  her four cats out of trouble. She is also a proud mom of two sons — Richard, 31, and Joshua, 29, who live in  New York and Texas, respectively.