Thirteenth Summer

07 Apr

Image: Pixabay

Thirteenth Summer

It wasn’t that I could not get up
the nerve to water-ski

or that I hated
myself in a bathing suit

It was bare feet
of tanned twins

next to mine
in that Waskesiu boat

smoothly brown
as Indian princesses

nails polished
the pink of shells

beside my pasty
sandaled peasants

that made me feel
not one of the beautiful people.

© 2017 by Violet Nesdoly


Prompt – Inspiration

The inspiration for this April 2011 poem was Adele Kenny’s memoir prompt. It begins:

For this prompt, try writing a memoir poem about an experience that haunts you. This is not to suggest a bad experience but, rather, a memory that continues to inform the present.

Memoir poems are narrative because they tell stories. However, we often see memoir “poems” that “narrate” in what is essentially prose (with a couple of good images, a few similes or metaphors, and stanzaic arrangements). Most of these poems don’t succeed because they never reach beyond the poet’s impulse to “tell.” The poem has to be more than the story – it has to be about what happened because of the story.

Read the rest of the prompt and a sample poem HERE.


VintagePADThis April I’m celebrating National Poetry Month by posting some not-as-yet published poems from my files, along with what inspired them. If the prompt inspires you to write a poem of your own, you’re welcome to share it in comments. Whether you write or not, thanks so much for dropping by!


Poetry Friday LogoThis poem is linked to Poetry Friday, hosted today by Irene Latham at her blog Live Your Poem.


Posted by on April 7, 2017 in Kids, People, Personal, Poetry Friday


Tags: , , , , , ,

19 responses to “Thirteenth Summer

  1. Jane the Raincity Librarian

    April 7, 2017 at 10:12 am

    Isn’t it amazing the way that a feeling can linger with you, all these years later, as fresh and real as if it happened just yesterday? I remember 13 all too well, and having been pudgy, pasty and spotty, those memories certainly aren’t my favourite….!


    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 7, 2017 at 11:12 am

      Thanks, Jane! Your description of yourself resonates with me! What I am so thankful for is that that cloud of negative comparisons of youth is gone and, as far as I can see, didn’t do any permanent damage. But yes, the memories can still bring up feelings of inadequacy and the longing to be more—like they did back then.



  2. Irene Latham

    April 7, 2017 at 2:38 pm

    Oh Violet, I can relate! Thank you for sharing your poem… I have one on the same subject in forthcoming book with Charles Water CAN I TOUCH YOUR HAIR? Poems of Race, Mistakes and Friendship. xo


    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 7, 2017 at 6:12 pm

      Thanks Irene. Aw… you too? I would love to read your poem “Can I Touch Your Hair”!



  3. dorireads

    April 8, 2017 at 5:32 am

    Oh my. I remember thirteen, too. Such an awkward, stringy, wallflower I was. Aren’t we all glad to have made it past those days.


    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 8, 2017 at 6:15 am

      Thanks Dori, I know! I’m so glad I’m not there any more (grey hair and wrinkles notwithstanding)!



  4. lindabaie

    April 8, 2017 at 7:17 am

    After so, so long a time, there are those small moments that I still remember, in embarrassment of what could have been, or a longing of what I could have said. I taught this age for a long time & as a teacher at least knew that the children were so tender. I would have loved to have shared this with them, Violet. Thank you for sharing with us.


  5. macrush53

    April 8, 2017 at 7:23 pm

    Thirteen was an awkward time for me. I remember very little. Thank you for sharing a part of your life.


  6. Kay McGriff (@kaymcgriff)

    April 9, 2017 at 6:43 am

    That is a haunting memory you share in your poem, and it succeeds in moving much beyond just telling with the emotion packed into a few images.


  7. margaretsmn

    April 9, 2017 at 3:06 pm

    I love this prompt that brought back your memory of being 13 and ashamed of your feet. This could easily be a verse in a novel-in-verse about an awkward teenager. And weren’t we all awkward teens?


    • Violet Nesdoly

      April 9, 2017 at 4:53 pm

      Thank you, Margaret! Yes, awkward teenager for sure. I have a few more I could write about that time.



  8. cvarsalona

    April 9, 2017 at 4:24 pm

    Memories are hard to erase, especially when they remind us of our awkward, teenage self. I like the way you handled this poem, Violet.


  9. Michelle Heidenrich Barnes

    April 13, 2017 at 7:00 am

    Such a beautiful, haunting poem, Violet… clearly one that many of us can relate to.

    And this… “beside my pasty
    sandaled peasants”

    So emotionally powerful.


  10. maryleehahn

    April 13, 2017 at 4:09 pm

    I was a lifeguard, so I always had the tan, but never felt at home in a swimsuit (ironically).



Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: