Hope was Not a Loss – Barbara Leonhard

My body was a cage

With only eyes for doors.

My arms, contorted,

Like branches twisted in shadows.

Voices, hollow sounds,

Called from the dinner table, but

My legs, dead trunks,

Held me to a bed


With a view to other children.

How they danced,

Like pansies and violets, 

Their blooms outstretched,

Gathering rays for Grace 

But not for the night of storm 

Clashing in my bones.


My lips held back the truth.

My cries were muffled in my throat.

Each wail, the language of stones

Falling on deaf ears.


Mother spoke the tunes of clouds.

Her words carried her young to the stars,

Not to the dead rocks lining

The bed of flowers

That could be me.


Rocks and earth held down

This young one with muted cries.


I’m still here.

In here.


Don’t forget the light inside this bud

Afflicted with blight.


How I want to burst out of

This stiff casing

To stretch my arms and fingers

Like tiny leaves unfolding in dawn.

I am stuck in mud,

Too dense for birth;

Too turbid for food.


No gardener is churning the soil

To give me air.


I was buried under new blooms

Dressed in violet and pink swaddling,

Dancing on my grave and beckoning,

 “Come and play; the day is divine.”


And so, I clawed my way

Out of the stiff core,

Muck and stone,

And peered into light

Blinding my infant eyes.


My arms and fingers unfolded 

Into new green.

My tiny legs stretched into roots

Holding my core as it danced

In breezes carrying buoyant rays

Like waves hitting my face.


Is birth a choice?

Or is Spirit’s breath 

Irascible in creation?


Can a flower remain a seed forever?

Or does it cast its casing aside 

In a mighty battle

To forage life.


The seed knows Choice;

Its soul has Will.

For some, the earth’s bed is always home.

For this one, hope was not a loss.



I am a retired ESL instructor who has enjoyed returning to creative writing, especially poetry. My favorite poems have metaphorical, mystical, and metaphysical themes. Most of my work can be found on my WordPress site at http://extraordinarysunshineweaver.blog.

This poem describes how I felt when I was paralyzed with measles encephalitis at the age of 6 going on 7. I could neither walk nor speak intelligibly, and my arms and fingers were contracted. I went into a coma for a period of time. Though I awoke from the com able to speak, I was still unable to walk. I sadly faced the rest of my life in a wheelchair. I was only able to sit by the picture window and watch other children playing outside. Lonely, I became determined to teach myself how to walk again. This poem describes my inner world and decision to fight my way out of the paralysis. My recovery was a true metamorphosis.

Here is the WordPress link to “Hope was Not a Loss”. The link has additional links to other writing I did on this life-changing event.



5 thoughts on “Hope was Not a Loss – Barbara Leonhard

  1. Pingback: Hope was Not a Loss – Barbara Leonhard — FREE VERSE REVOLUTION – Extraordinary Sunshine Weaver

  2. Pingback: Sunday Best: monsters – FREE VERSE REVOLUTION

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