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Darkness Before Dawn: A Memoir In Verse

A Day In Early April

Barren winter trees

Stand starkly against grey skies,

Branches reaching up.

Between Two Worlds

I have been labeled as

Twice Exceptional—

But what’s so exceptional

About not belonging anywhere?

I have one foot in

The special ed classes of my childhood,

And one foot in

The gifted classes, for only the best.

I’m too academic for the former,

Too easily overwhelmed for the latter,

And too


For both.


Be that as it may, I know God still loves me,

He created me,

Awkward, intellectual,

Autistic, perfectionist me,

For a reason.

I won’t let Him down. I won’t

Waste my potential. I’ll keep

My empathy for those who

Are in the places I once was—

The ignored, the marginalized, the

Struggling to function.

At the same time, I’ll

Write my books,

Embrace my academic gifts,

And strive to improve myself.

For God.

Carpe Diem

I used to let my doubts consume me.

I wondered if I was ever good enough,

And so I didn’t even try to improve.

But gradually I began to think:

When I wake up on the last day of my life,

As an old woman, ready to ascend…

What will I have done with myself?

Will I be proud? Will I have done my best?

Or will I have wasted my life on “what-ifs”?

So I wrote more—it was mediocre at first, but it was a start.

I cooked, I drew, I talked, I laughed.

I lived to learn, I seized the day.

And so, when it’s my time to leave this Earth,

I’ll know that I can go to God in peace,

Because I will have done all that I can.


I’m interested in animation.

My sister would rather watch shows about animals.

So what?

I craft stories on a Google Doc.

And she draws beautifully on paper.

They’re both art!

I read all the time, but

One of my best friends doesn’t like books at all!

She’s more of an athletic type,

Whereas I’d rather avoid sports at all costs.

Good for both of us, am I right?

Everyone’s passions are different,

As long as you’re not hurting yourself or anyone else,

It doesn’t matter if you’re mainstream or hipster,

Introvert or extrovert,

Nerd or jock or band geek—

Or none of the above, or a combination.

Just be you,

And don’t let society trample on your interests.

Fear Itself


It’s not only the absence of sight.

It’s also my greatest fear.

To be forever in the dark,

To never see my family’s faces,

Ever again?

It scares me deep inside—

And it almost came crashing down

On my twelve-year-old-self.


Will I ever be good enough for myself?

I know I’m truly academically driven,

But there are concepts I just—don’t—get!

One little mistake and I’m suddenly inferior.

Always striving, studying, reaching for the top.

Why can’t I achieve what they’re all achieving?

The teenage geniuses on the news;

I wish I could stop comparing my gifts and theirs.

Losing Them:

I want to keep everyone I care about

Close to me, physically and mentally.

But my grandparents are getting old.

I hate to think it, but—

I’ll miss them, when I’m grown.

My friends, will they still notice me,

When we’re out of high school

And we all have diverging dreams?

Finding Forgiveness

I’ve been hurt before,

By someone I thought would be there


They lured me in with promises of beautiful somedays,

But then they went and left me


And it still breaks my heart

To think about what I’ve


I can’t help but feel hatred towards them,

Although their face is becoming shadowed in my


I’m tired of crying when I think about them,

I don’t want to have this bitter


Oh, it’s going to be a long road towards forgiveness,

But I know that to move on, I need to let myself



Father God, we seek Thee in the brightness of the day,

And in the darkest midnight, Thou guidest our way.

Father God, we praise Thee when times are fine and fair,

When ev’rything is breaking, Thou art still present there.

God is the wonderful Sovereign,

God is the Shepherd, we know,

God will not ever leave you,

No matter where you go.

It Was Worth It

After all the self-doubt,

The frustration, the criticism,

And the times

When my well of ideas ran dry—

The day is finally here,

I’ve gone from


To “author”,

All thanks to you,

And you,

And you:

My supporters,



Let Me Out

Don’t pray,

Don’t talk,

Don’t speak your mind.




They trick you into thinking you get to be creative—

‘This art project allows you to be yourself!’ Yeah, right.

The end product is as formulaic as ever.

No escape!

No escape!

No escape!

Few windows,

Stone walls,

Endless, endless hallways.

I’m trapped!

I’m trapped!

I’m trapped!

All of us are defined by numbers,

Grade point average,

Test scores, student I.D.

But what could I do?

I’m just a student,

A student,

A student.


Cling to tradition,

You’re proper young ladies now—

Sheltered southern belles.

The Penultimate Days

There’s a shift in our collective paradigm.

No one is sure when it starts—

My bet is on late April, or early May.

That doesn’t really matter, in the long run;

We never know when it begins,

Only when it’s taken root in all of us.

We come to school with sunburns on our faces,

The anxiety of finals in our hearts,

And the bittersweet taste of summer on our lips.

Piano Soul

I imagine that

The human soul

Is something like

A piano.

Before you call me crazy, please consider:

The black keys on a piano

Represent our darkest hatred,

Our fear and wrath and sin.

While the white keys on a piano

Represent our capacity to love,

To help and give and care.

The low notes

Represent our heartbroken, lost-in-the-valley times,

When all seems lost.

And the high notes

Represent our euphoric, dreams-coming-true times,

When everything is right.


I see life through a prism.

My first pair

Of glasses

Had a red frame.

(They were always breaking, but I don’t remember why.

Am I blocking something out? Forgetting the pain?)

The protagonist in my first favorite series

Was an orange cat.

(Those books got me through

The heartbreak and isolation)

I offered a yellow balloon

To the adults of the house,

Attempting to stop the fight.

(I didn’t know, then,

That not everything was so easily fixed)

It’s been said that envy is green.

Well, then,

I am verdant.

(I still struggle

Not to feel inferior)

Blue is

The color of the house I grew up in

(Where I longed for love,

Only to learn about hate)

Indigo and violet—shades of purple,

They were my favorite colors.

(Back before innocence was lost)


We are marionettes,

Pulled along on strings made of hedonism.

Our puppeteers:

Social media outlets,



When they want us to move one way or the other,

Think like them and say what they want us to say,

We do so without question,

To the cheers of the audience,

Who don’t know that they, too, are puppets.

Remembering Them


Could have been a sister, daughter, scientist, missionary.


Could have been a brother, son, carpenter, chef.

But they’ll never be anything

Because of a piece of legislation,

Saying it’s legal

To kill babies, innocent babies,

In the womb.

Why is it acceptable

To end a precious life,

Even if it is small enough

To fit in your hand?

God is looking down from Heaven,

And I fear for all of you when I remember that

His judgement

Will come.

Sing A Song of Home


I sing a song of ice and snow,

As the white flecks gather, as they crystallize on the ground

And the wind blows cold,

But I’m inside, and I know that

I’m home.


I sing a song of tulips, daisies,

Of light warm rain, and new life in the world,

In church I learn about a sacrifice

And Jesus seems to tell me that

I’m home.


I sing a song of freedom and excitement,

I love the smell of chlorine, and the feel of chilled-cold water

Against my sun-soaked skin.

The sky is blue, the days are long, and I’m so glad that

I’m home.


I sing a song of red and yellow leaves,

Falling from their branches and blanketing the world,

I go back to school, back to a new beginning.

Then the last bell rings and, finally,

I’m home.


I’ve had quite a life.

Now what will the future hold?

I hope it is good.

They Told Me

They told me my father didn’t love me.

They were wrong.

All those broken years, I thought he had abandoned us,

When he was fighting so hard to get back into our lives.

They told me my grandmother would take us away,

And she did, in a sense.

But I’m glad of it.

My life was broken pottery,

And she repaired it,

Making seams of molten gold.

They told me my differences were bad,

That I was any number of unspeakable things.

Now I’m proud to be red in a sea of blue

And I’m learning to call myself smart,

Where before, my name may as well have been stupid.

They told me my sister could do no wrong,

And this had the opposite effect,

Making me berate her at every turn.

It’s still hard to look past the old days,

When she was an angel from the realms of glory,

And I was a rotten piece of fruit—

But it was never her fault, or mine.

They told me everything, but gave me nothing—

I’ll never believe their lies again.

They Don’t Speak For Us

After a while,

All the so-called ‘advocates’ start to sound the same.

They claim to want the best for us,

But in the same breath,

They compare us to a missing piece

In a jigsaw puzzle.

When really,

We’re right here,

Understanding every hateful word.

They say that they know best

When it comes to autism,

But they never once

Ask actual autistic people

How we feel—

About a cure,

About being treated like we’re stupid.

About what it’s like,

Being different in a neurotypical world.

The Things That Saved Me

These are the things that carried me through:

First and foremost, there’s

God’s unending love,

Guiding me through the darkness,

Even when I didn’t believe.

Second, there’s

The power of books,

Letting me escape that run-down blue trailer,

At least in my mind and my heart.

Last, but not least, there’s

my darling great-grandmother

Who took me in when it seemed like

My life had hit a dead end.

So, in conclusion, I just want you to know…

These are the things that saved me.

To My Younger Selves

Hello, eight-year-old self.

I know you’re conflicted,

You don’t know what’s going on,

Or who to believe,

Or why these caseworkers are taking you away.

Let me tell you, eight-year-old self.

The God you don’t yet know will make everything all right.

Hello, ten-year-old self,

I know you feel like you’re stupid and inferior.

Guess what?

I’m not going to tell you that these feelings go away completely,

Because they don’t. But by the time you’re a teenager

You’ll have done great things,

And it will get easier to ignore the doubt.

Hello, twelve-year-old self,

I know you’ve been struggling with wanting to end it all,

Wondering if you’re really worth it,

Hating yourself for the littlest mistakes.

One word sums up my message to you:

Soon. Soon you’ll learn that you are worthy of love.

It gets better soon.


They’re spiraling down,

Into addiction—

It’s not to drugs or gambling,

But it still causes friction.

They’re trapped in a maze

Of phones and games,

They’re losing themselves;

They should all be ashamed.

I can’t help but wonder,

Will I be next?

Excuse me a moment—

I just got a text.



Into the treefort we will go,

Happy and free, we smile so,

As we turn boxes into valleys low—

Into the treefort we will go.


We’re older now, the magic wanes

Replaced by adolescent pains—

The losses now outweigh the gains,

We go alone down our memory lanes.


One last time, we decide to go,

Into the treefort, but the cold winds blow,

Grass and weeds have begun to grow,

Our childhoods are over….now we know.


Always watching and waiting

By the sea for news of their lovers—

Cruel is the mistress of war.

Day by day those left behind stare at the sea,

Ever hoping for word, and ever

Fearing it in equal measure.

Gone are the glory days, before the call.

Happiness left with the last departing ship.

In the night, they are forced to return to empty houses,

Jars of preserves line the shelves, but there is no one to appreciate them. The

Kings and queens of these foreign lands must have no heart, the women think as they

Linger on the shore, waiting for their

Martyred brothers, husbands, sons—who

Never come back.

Of course, they lost. The enemy was far more

Powerful, with troops upon troops and countless weapons. The

Question is, were all those lives wasted? The ones back home, were they

Ruined for nothing? Their

Small cottages seem so huge, now

That the warriors are gone.

Understanding is impossible, and there is a note displayed on the wall in one house:

“Victory will be ours, dear

Wife, my beautiful

Xandra. Don’t worry,

You will see me again soon.


Darkness Before Dawn: A Memoir In Verse

The author's poems about subjects that are important to her, varying in style and subject matter.

  • ISBN: 9781370982400
  • Author: R. S. Oswald
  • Published: 2017-06-23 17:20:12
  • Words: 2292
Darkness Before Dawn: A Memoir In Verse Darkness Before Dawn: A Memoir In Verse