Lost My World at Seventeen
by Martina Robles Gallegos
What should have been the happiest time
in high school was instead the darkest one;
never would I have imagined
that my world would be turned upside down.
I was just gaining confidence learning a new language
and getting used to living in a new country;
I was making new friends, real friends.
Being seventeen couldn’t have been better,
and it wasn’t; it got worse, much worse.
At seventeen I had a premonition at school;
I felt I needed to call home; something was very wrong.
I asked a teacher for change to make the call,
but she had none and asked why I felt something was wrong.
I didn’t know, but she assured me everything was fine.
When I was seventeen, I’d had other premonitions that came true;
this was another one, the biggest, saddest one of all.
I came home to find relatives I’d seen over the weekend;
my heart told me I’d been right,
and something was very wrong.
I walked in the house and saw sad, crying faces;
I asked what was going on,
but nobody seemed to hear me.
I looked at an aunt and repeated my question.
“Your mom has left us,” she replied.
“That’s not true; she was here this morning,” I said.
“She’s gone; diosito took her.”
All I heard next was a THUMP, and I was out cold on the floor;
for the first time in my life, I’d passed out.
My mom had died that day, and with her my world.
I couldn’t believe I’d lost my world at seventeen.
AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: I can’t remember who took this picture, but it was during a camping trip to Los Angeles National Forest. We went there to spend time away after our mother’s passing.
NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I was living in Pasadena, California, from 1978 to 1983 and was attending Pasadena High School. I believe I was a sophomore, a bit older than my classmates, when I had that fateful premonition during lunch time. The year was 1980 or 1981, but I can’t recall exactly, or have chosen to forget. I went to tell my E.S. L. teacher about what I’d felt, and she wanted to know why or how I knew something was wrong, but I didn’t know how to explain it. Since she didn’t have the change I needed, she didn’t know what had happened after the next day; yes, I went to school the next day having just lost my mother. My oldest brother, who’d just married over the weekend, happened to come home to pick up some belongings and found our mom hanging from a closet. If he hadn’t stopped by, I would’ve been the one to find her. She’d suffered from mental illness for some time but “seemed and acted well.” Later I learned those were signs of things gone wrong.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Martina Robles Gallegos was born and raised in Mexico and came to the United States at almost 15. She spoke no English. While recuperating from a work injury and stroke, she resumed a Master’s degree and completed it from Grand Canyon University. She’d picked up writing again during her initial recovery. Some poems have been published in the Altadena Poetry Review: Anthology 2015, Hometown Pasadena, Silver Birch Press, Poets Responding to SB1070, and Somos en Escrito.