The Song With Stars
“The song with the stars, Mommy!”
Begins weeks of mind-wracking,
Finally the young questor/requester
Cries triumphant recognition, “The song with the stars!”
And her perception flummoxes me.
I hear the words as sung,
And never expected anything different.
For me, the scars are still there in the mirror.
Scars, not stars for the old woman-child
I was, innocence lost at seven,
Perfect mistrust my watchword for ages.
Can just wanting, just liking the thought
Transmute regrown soul tissue
To the astral glory of the night skies?
Can the magic of ignorance
Achieve desire without effort,
Change revulsion to perseverance?
My daughter’s stars create
A moment’s respite
In my injured marathon
A restful breath, a mental peace
The inward smile that says
At least someone hears stars.
I’m not a huge fan of explaining poetry. It limits the reader to the author’s interpretation of the words. To me, poetry gives us the gift of participating in the reading, more so than novels, for example. However, there is a back story here. Consider it optional!
When S. was a toddler, she asked me to play “the song with the stars” and I had literally no idea what she meant. I tried “Javert’s Suicide” from Les Mis, I tried Don McLean’s “Starry, Starry Night”, I tried “Seven Bridges Road”, I tried everything I could imagine she’d heard. This went on for months.
Finally, in the car one day, I put on The Road Less Travelled by Melissa Etheridge and S. just lit up. The song she’d been talking about all that time was “I Run for Life.”
I’d played that song endlessly when it came out. I know the song, as intended, became an anthem for breast cancer survivors, but for me it spoke to depression and mothering small children. My darkness came from depression, lurking always inside of me, and the lives I ran for—that I run for—are my children.
The song came out around when Little A. was born and saw me through his infancy. So S. heard it a lot. And I hope the poem conveys a little of how her interpretation of the lyrics affected me.