"dazzle gradually"

"Dazzle Gradually" 2017 poems, paintings, new art & photography--a diary, a discipline, a delight. Read over my shoulder as I post my unedited poetry ---you can see it in the raw or get my first book and see how the work evolves with new books rolling out next year.

Polly Alice

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Reasons Why You Shouldn't Exist

To my children:
Reasons Why I Shouldn't Exist
or How plans don't always work out

1918--  Although they planned for the possibility of death after the draft,
a world wide flu epidemic created a lock down at Camp Crowder. 
No one could go in or out.  This flu was not dangerous to the very young or very old,
this one felled the hearty.  My mother's grandfather could not leave camp to fight. 
The war ended.  They opened the gates, and he came home to farm having never fought. 
He married and had two children near St. Joseph, Missouri.

1920's--  Your father's grandparents may have planned to live in Germany forever, but they came to America by steam liner as little children.  Their parents had their own reasons for leaving family and culture behind.  They were raised as Americans near Philadelphia, PA.  Thier escape of coming to age during the WWII in Germany makes you third generation American.

1930's-- My father's father was the ninth of nine children and raised by his oldest sister.
On the day he planned to propose to his first love, they were in an automobile accident.
Later, in Washington D.C. he met my grandmother instead, and they were married. 
She saved her dress, veil, and the couple from the top of her cake from her wedding
for seventy years.

1940-- Your father's grandfather was one of seven children born to Irish Catholic parents.  They planned for the fact that he might not live through his childhood epilepsy.  Not being able to play sports, they bought him a record player.  Bill Haily came over to listen to music with him every day after school.  When Bill started a band he was invited but didn't join in.  He outgrew the seizures and worked his whole life in a quarry near Chester, PA.  He proposed to his wife on the bus at Walnut and 3d streets in front of his mother-in-law.

1948--  My father's mother had the RH negative blood type which made her body
toxic to the children she planned to have.  It was then untreatable. 
Somehow my father was the only one to make it safely into the world. 
After nine days in the hospital they taught her how to make formula,
and sent them home to Kansas.

1950's--  Your mother's mother planned to leave her two girls in the truck for just a minute.  She left the keys in the ignition and walked toward the door.  When that truck eased back on its haunches and rolled down with her babies inside, she grabbed it by the bumper, dug heels into the dirt road, and stopped it with her bare hands.

1960's--  Your father's father planned a trip to Hawaii for his high school graduation trip and wanted to travel the world.  Deep under the water he caught his foot in the coral and couldn't get it out.  A vision of Jesus appeared to him under the water.  He held out his hand, told your grandfather he had plans for him, and pulled him up.   When he rose to the surface, he went back home to Media, PA.

1971--My father planned a three week tour of Europe with a girlfriend. 
They ended up on separate buses.  He was stuck with a traveling high school choir.
He sat next to a girl who could sing like an angel.  Their first date was to eat strawberry
ice cream in Germany.  In the Air Force he did arial photography, and when he was asked to go to Vietnam, another man told him to stay home with his wife then went in his place.
1978-- My mother planned to take me home to her new yellow house after I was born.  But I arrived in a snowstorm, two months early, in Minneapolis Minnesota.  At the hospital my mother told the doctor Jesus wanted me to live.  The specialists weighed me in at 2 lbs and 8 ounces.  They put me in an incubated glass box with a heat lamp, and predicted I'd be blind and deaf with possible brain damage.  When I left the hospital at three months old in a Betsy Wetsy dress, they couldn't guess I was the only family member who wouldn't need glasses, I would pass all my hearing tests, and take all the advanced classes in school.

1998-- I planned to go to Japan and teach English, maybe marry someone dark and foreign then travel around the world painting amazing art.  Asked to help a friend find out about a college trip to Israel, I ended up going too.  I shared a camel in the desert with a blond Irish American.  When I came home, I was hopelessly lost without him.  We married and lived near Harrisburg, PA.

2009--  We left you for an hour with a babysitter and planned to have a little dinner and conversation with your Aunt.  Your father was "this" close to becoming an Episcopal Priest --and planned to take one last test the next day.   When we got a call that the house was on fire, we raced home to find you safe in the arms of a neighbor, fire eating the roof of your bedroom window.  Your pink shoes were on the wrong feet.  After that, we decided to change our plans, but really we just decided to spend every possible moment loving you.


  1. wow, Polly, every stanza took my breath away and the end made me cry. Polly, you should be published, and have books i treasure like Li Young Lee's.

    (now a note from a editor, though it seems heartless after the emotion, but in the stanza about your father meeting a woman who sung like an angel, mention it's your mom.)

  2. Simply beautiful. SO many reasons why we can see how God orchestrates our lives.

    I loved this. More more more.


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