General Poetry posted April 24, 2023

This work has reached the exceptional level
Why, baby girl.

Don't Be Afraid

by John Ciarmello



I kneel at your bedside

and kiss the back of your hand.

“Don’t be afraid, baby girl. It’s Daddy.”


Then your fingers curl inside my palm.

I tighten my grip and know

your eyes dampen under gritted lids.


“Are you telling me not to weep, baby girl?

 Are you telling me not to watch 

as you slip away?” You twitch–


“Please, don’t be afraid. It’s Daddy.”


I move your hair off your forehead

and rest my cheek against yours.

“Hey,” I whisper.


From a closed fist, your index finger moves outward and erect. 

“Are you telling me to leave? 

Why?” I whisper. 


Your forehead wrinkles slightly. “What is it, baby girl?

 Am I to blame? Should I have known you’d do this to yourself?

 How could I have known?”


Your feet quiver suddenly. I move to the foot of your bed and

swaddle them in the hospital sheets.

“Are you telling me it was too late for you to walk away, baby girl?”


As I stand over you, I hear your inaudible murmurs.

I lean in close and feel your breath on my ear.

“I told Him I didn’t mean to die,” you said.


You rest for a moment. Then–another murmur.

“Daddy, What do I do?

Someone is calling me into the light.”


I kneel open my arms and answer,

“Don’t be afraid, baby girl.

It’s Daddy.”


Poem of the Month contest entry



The living will never know their regret. Suicide awareness. Be alert! Be aware before it hits close to home. Thank you for reading.
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