To Justin, On Your Graduation (A Poem)


Debating with myself for years

Undecided until the final moment

That you would graduate from 12th grade.

Another huge milestone in a year when you

made several: Halifax, New York, your 18th birthday.

How can I tell you, dear son, how proud I am of you

Of your accomplishments, your skills, your talents

Your intelligence, your character.

I wanted to share this moment with you

As much as a million other moments that I missed

But wanting you to be comfortable, relaxed

at such a grand day was more important to me

Than my desire to be with you

I stayed away.

As I have stayed away

If only to let you find yourself

Learn for yourself, decide for yourself

Some truths about life

I only hope that you have found

The right mentors, the right models

To guide you when I could not

To listen when I was unable

To cheer you on

Encourage you

Remind you of the lessons I taught you

As you were growing up and very young

Before you were taken away from me

Body, mind, spirit

Heart of my heart,

blood of my blood

body of my body

My wound opens anew

each time I think of you

No less painful than the day I lost you

and my blood pours out in tears

and in silence

I congratulate you.


© Cindy Lapeña, 2014



…and papa was there (poem)


it was a dark and stormy night

and papa was there

to put me to sleep

i had always wanted to be a girl scout

and everyone’s mommy and daddy

was at the induction

to pin the tiny girl scout pin

and tie the white kerchiefs on

i thought no one would come

and just when they called my name

papa was there

mama brought me to my grade school graduation

but didn’t stay

and somewhere in the middle of it all

as i strained to see the tiny faces in the crowd

papa was there

with his camera and his big almost-smile

and when my tummy hurt

really bad in school and

i had to get an appendectomy

before the anaesthetic got to work

papa was there holding my hand

and his eyes and shining eyeglasses

were the last thing i saw

floating next to the iv bottle

and when i walked down the aisle

papa was there holding me

like a little girl again

and smiling and crying

as i was

and when bianca came into the world

i thought i saw papa at the window

in a green surgical smock and cap

and when i woke up

there was a bag of sweets and cakes

and papa

and when i die

wherever i go i’m quite sure

the first thing i see will be papa.


© Cindy Lapeña, 2012


Return to Poetry