Two Ditches

Out on my own, but not equipped
      To meet with life’s demands.
From childish props I’m fully stripped—
First one and then another slipped
      From my unwilling hands.

Oh, how it burned to let them go!
     I found the process hard,
And though I wouldn’t let it show,
I fondly clenched my status quo,
      ’Til I was deeply scarred.

When finally the fetters broke,
      Their sweet attraction fled—
What once had seemed a needed cloak
Appeared a cruel, deceiving yoke,
      Which I was glad to shed.

But in the shedding of my past,
      That once had been my crutch,
With prejudice I once held fast,
And faulty rules that couldn’t last,
      I may have lost too much.

In blind religion I’d been trained
      And took an active part.
Old forms and customs I’d maintained,
But turned, when I my freedom gained,
      To what was in my heart.

The right things that my elders taught
      I never understood,
So when I ditched the stuff that’s not,
I rid myself of the whole lot
      And didn’t keep the good.

So now I have no solid ground
      On which to take a stand.
I’m unencumbered and unbound,
But tossed by worldly winds around,
      Uncertain where to land.

And so, not once, but twice deceived,
      I’ve held conflicting lies.
This time the wrong’s no more perceived
Than when my innocence believed
      All I was taught was wise.

The opposite I now embrace,
      I know my teachers wrong.
For me no hint or telltale trace
Of what they taught has any place,
      For I, myself, am strong.

So here am I—poor, wretched, blind,
      While thinking I am rich.
I left my awkward past behind,
But overzealously inclined,
      I found the other ditch.

~Nita Brainard