Atone / Poem

A few months ago I deleted a lot of poems off my blog because I was compiling a poetry manuscript in the hopes of publishing it. A lot of those poems were rough first drafts anyway, but still one of my favourite parts of the blog.

I now have a poetry collection, unpublished, but something I’ve worked on consistently since June. Poems have been edited, pulled apart, taken out, put back in. Two people have read it; a friend and a sister, offering beautiful feedback and constructive criticism and giving me more to edit than I would have known to do myself.

I am trying to get it traditionally published, but I think if nothing happens then sometime next year I’ll start looking into self-publication. A lot of contemporary poets were discovered through their first self-published book rather than agents picking up their manuscript, and in all honesty, I just want to hold my words in a book.

I’ve also been trying to grow a writing platform on Instagram as well as this blog. I’ve been posting short poems consistently on Instagram (my longer poems don’t really suit Instagram’s format) and because of that I thought – I want to start posting creative writing on my blog again.

Sharing creative writing on my blog was so good for me and I loved it. I loved my Creative Fridays, and my blog is special to me in a way social media isn’t. And if I’m posting on Instagram, there’s no reason to not post creative content on my blog too.

Wow, that was a long introduction considering the title of this post is literally a poem. But it’s here now, we made it, thank you for getting through the prelude.

Atone (written by Sarah Bennett)

When I close my eyes I am twelve.

Not yet haunted by hope that does not flower yet still devoured by what can go wrong, the tang of regret, the shuddering silence of shame.

She looks innocent, vulnerable. I pray that look returns to me.

I tell her to cling to Jesus, to learn the beauty of letting someone else know she needs them.

I apologise to her and forgive myself, over and over until I cannot tell whether I am the victim or the oppressor. I wonder if it is possible to be both at the same time.

She is innocent, vulnerable. I believe her to be blameless but she doesn’t believe it herself. This is what I apologise for. This is the wrong my future self will spend a lifetime trying to make right.

She looks down and I wonder when she became afraid of what was in front of her. She wants to be known but is scared to be seen. She is worried for the future.

I still am.

Only I am trying to face it with chin up, meeting the horizon with determination. I will right my wrongs. I will greet tomorrow with arms open wide. I will let her know things turn out okay, I turn out okay.

Slowly, she is accepting what she cannot change.

Slowly, we are accepting each other.

In my manuscript, this is actually the first poem. They’re in alphabetical order, and I think this poems encapsulates the themes of self-acceptance and healing that run through the entire collection.

As always, I’d love to know what you think!

Sarah xx

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