Amy Barlow Liberatore… stories of lost years, wild times, mental variety, faith, and lots of jazz

Tag Archives: sisters

Sofia (anaphoric poem for a young soul)

Sofia’s sisters will write their symphonies
for the world in their world

Sofia’s song lies within, beautiful, sonorous,
hard to explain, yet unfailingly lovely…
filled with illusions and wonder

Sofia’s favorite pastime is looking in the mirror
God gazes back at her, through her eyes and
in her infectious smile; a face that is
a reflection of the face of God

Sofia’s sisters will have a different kind of freedom
Roaming the world, seeking their separate destinies
But she is the lucky one
Destiny has found her and
God holds her in strong arms

Sofia, your every breath is counted
and you will never be alone
Your name means wisdom and, though hidden,
it is real, a labyrinth that dwells deep and swells wide.

Sofia. Your witness is simply being; your song is of the soul.

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

I had written this poem for Sofia, the daughter of my friends Daniel and Joy, during a visit to San Antonio years ago, but it never saw the light of day until this blessed move to our new home next to our church. My posting will be sporadic, but I’ll read more than I post for a few days on breaks from unpacking.  This is at dverse, Poets United, and the garden I have sorely missed, Imaginary Garden With Real Toads.

dverse asked for Anaphoric poems, which have repeated words or sounds. I decided to use the name which became a song for playtime: Sofia.

When we were visiting, Sofia, who had a difficult delivery and will never function in “our ways” past a young age, delighted when I played with her. The song was “So-FIIIIII-aaaaa…” followed by long, silly phrases:
So-FIIII-aaaaa sits on the floor and plays with her box of stuff
So-FIIII-aaaaa picks up the box and dumps all the stuff on the floor
(dump and giggle)

On and on through picking up plastic horses and puzzle pieces to dumping it out again. Hers is a pure existence, and the reason she has a happy life lies with her family. Danny and Joy are parents who, when faced with the birth of a child who would never learn to read or write, refused to lock her away. Her sisters, Veronica, Eva, and Carmen, love her for who she is, and Sofia is safe from caring when they pass her milestones; they are all equally loved by their parents and their larger family as individuals. This is a family of deep faith and a strong sense that they have been blessed by God with Sofia. My heart this day is with Daniel and Joy, with their able girls, and with that specially abled young woman, Sofia. Paz, y con mucho amor, Amy

Lucky Girl Child

Our second sister,
birthed still as stone

Never to serve as
our father’s very own

little plaything – then relive,
after years of self-doubt,

what evils her Daddy
had carried about

I think it lucky
she heard God’s sweet call

Was she not graced
by good fate after all?

© 2013 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

As always, I speak on behalf of myself, not for anyone in my family. This is my truth, and I tell it willingly to help others.

As frequent readers here at Sharp Li’l know, I was sexually molested by my father. Long before I was born, my mother suffered a stillbirth during her second pregnancy. Fortunately for Charlotte, subsequent pregnancies went well; however, there were consequences regarding my father – which she finally acknowledged knowing about, during the last year of her life.

Sexual molestation is more frequent in families that most would acknowledge. Fathers, uncles, teachers, and friends of the family, of whom over 90% identify as straight men, are the most frequent perpetrators of pedophilia. If you know a little girl or boy who is easily startled, wets the bed past the usual age, seems unusually shy (or gravitates toward adult figures with inappropriate affection), or even tries to tell you about “bad touches,” please take notice. It may be nothing… or it may be everything for that child to be noticed and taken seriously.

For more information on the signs of child sexual abuse, click HERE.

This was written in response to the weekly Trifecta prompt, Lucky, with 33-333 words, including the third definition below.

LUCKY (adjective)

1: having good luck
2: happening by chance : fortuitous
3: producing or resulting in good by chance: favorable>

May the children near you, and all children worldwide, be freed of this tragic circumstance.  Until then, I bid you peace.  Amy

The Sweetest Presence

A gift from her sister, I was
oooohed and aaaahed over

Now I hang on a rusty hook
near the back screen door

Listening to kids running
in, out, in, out, slam, slam

Her husband complains that
I’m in his way, bang

(He is too tall, but
I won’t be the one to say)

I was once a variety
of leftover spoons and forks

Then, refiner’s fire made me
flatware that’s really flat

Now comes a quiet breeze
breathing through me

and the gently moving silverware
makes music to soothe the soul

I may not chime the hour
but I have my own charms

She hears my call and
joins me for a cup of tea

Always remembers her sister
when she listens to me

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

My dear friend Sherry Blue Sky turned me on to this prompt. Hannah Gosslein (known to many of us as “Sweet Hannah” offered a prompt at Imaginary Garden With Real Toads, to inhabit the spirit of a forest plant or creature. I made a detour and chose something that is affected by nature, the humble wind chime. A friend had some that were indeed forged and flattened forks and spoons, leftovers from an old family set, and it left a definitely impression on me. Thanks, Hannah! Peace, Amy

Black Sheep (a tale of three sisters)

Our mother, civil rights fighter

Big sister
Rebellious, slutty teen
Now Fundamentalist Rightie

Middle sister
Former activist
Now Tea Party

Little sister
Feminist, liberal Christian social activist

Two drank Kool-Aid

I’m an orphan

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

For Trifecta, the challenge was to use the “Rule of Three,” in exactly 33 words. Hope my sisters do not read this, but, hey, if they do, it’s true! The number three was always tricky, as Mom (social justice applying everywhere but in our home) often pitted us against each other.

Triangulation, thy name is Charlotte.  Love you, Mom, but really…!  Peace to all, Amy


Growing up, we had a pool.
This guaranteed us friends
during dog days, kids diving
for pennies, singing along to
my sister’s transistor radio.

I learned to be graceful there.
Normally prone to clumsiness,
I glided like a siren on her way to
a gig tempting sailors who’d crash
their crafts on the rocks below.

Underwater, the mermaid learned
how to swim a full lap in one breath,
then two laps. But the best part was
dinner hour, when the kids got called
home and I had the pool to myself.

Dad worked hard and drank late,
so we’d eat whenever he drove in.
One afternoon, I lay face-down
on a long raft, hands grazing water
as one bothers timothy grass in the field.

No one called me in for supper.
Result? Even Black Irish, brown-eyed
girls get the occasional sunburn, but
this was a blistering, “degree” burn,
with ointments and aloe and sympathy.

As the burn dried and began to peel,
my sister Jo used her nails to scratch
a perfect heart on my back. This artwork
grossed out the kids, which was, of course,
the point.

© Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
Karin Gustafson, hosting dverse today, wanted memories of summer. This one stuck with me for two reasons; first, my sisters took after my English father, blonde hair and blue eyes, and they burned easily, so my mother’s brown-eyed Irish heritage usually saved me from that fate. Second, the fact that my sister Jo would take so much time creating on my back made me feel special.

Also at my poetic kiddie pool, Poets United. Peace, Amy

Broken Angel
(based on “Angel,” my poem for Poetic Bloomings)

Back then
Back when Christmas was fun
And it was Santa’s birthday again

We had a tree
Same one every year,
Balsam fir, short needles,
dressed in pure red
A huge Mrs. Claus,
a “mama tree”

Cherry lights strung to perfection
Middle sis righting every
incorrectly placed bulb ‘til it was

Then the satinsheen red ornaments
(a hand-me-down from Aunt Pris,
the holiday window dresser at Fowler’s)
So fragile, handled like dynamite
lest one explode, one wrong move
revealing shards of thin glossy insides

We had no angel atop our tree, though
we three made many in Sunday school
and in every single grade –
back when Christmas was not a whisper
and to hell with the handful of Jews in the hallways
(some wishing they had trees and stockings too)

But angels? Our folks’d have to pick
one of our three… they’d have no trinity
And white would spoil the symmetry

Our angel, last year’s broken one
when a single slip lopped the top off
Stuck on top of the tree, inverted
Blood rushing to its head
crowned by needly thorns

“Lllight it up, plllug it in, Bud!
Girllls, outen the llllights!” slurred Mom
And there it stood
flooding the living room with
every gimmering shade of red

From the street, our tree was
a blazing hearth streaming
light onto snow that glowed
vaguely pink in its wake

“Oh, look,” said a neighbor
as folks strolled admiring
one another’s holiday handiwork,
“The Red Light District,
the Barlows’ cat house is once again
open for business!”

* * * * * * * * * *

That bulb on top
the bloodied, upside-down talisAngel of
all the other 360-some days of the year

Behind perfect suburban clapboard exterior
the heartbeat of interior fear
of inferiority comples flexing
my first scrawny girlish muscles that were
destined to beat up only myself

We’ve grown
Our kids’ angels, our new objects d’nativite
With grown-up arms, we
beat back the Barlow Bordello curse
But Christmas is still sad for me

Those shimmering red bulbs
Cherry ambulance lights on rescue that never came
A cry for help but
Dad’s hand was clamped over my mouth

A broken angel.

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil

This experience is based solely on my own experience and should not reflect on my siblings in any way other than before the asterisks (but middle sis WAS very meticulous about lighting, and I know she’d admit that, ha ha).

I wrote “Angel,” the part up to the “snowflake” asterisks, for Poetic Bloomings (childhood memories), but Sunday Scribblings wanted a poem about a Talisman, and this version goes deeper into the meaning of that ‘little red angel’ on our tree. Also for dverse Poets Open Mic on Tuesday, and as always, stuck in the stocking at Poets United, my “every day is a holiday” safe space. Peace, Amy

Babes in Toyland

We weren’t spoiled kids
my sisters and I

Modest presents
under the tree

One year I got
my first and only Barbie

That summer, we got
all our Barbies together

and made them into
Nazi hunters, bringing

bad Germans to justice
(no wonder I married a Jewish guy)

Best of all, my sis
made me a dollhouse

Really, a trollhouse
back in the days when

you could score a troll doll
for a buck, back when

inside the house was
my favorite playground

She worked with balsa
and with crates

designed bedrooms
with ornate curtains

and cool furniture
She also made them clothes

She toiled in secret and
when she unveiled it,

I gotta tell ya,
it was the biggest present

I had ever received…
and the best.

After all these years,
I have this to say:

Thanks, Jo, for
giving me the gifts

of your time and
your loving heart

© 2012 Amy Barlow Liberatore/Sharp Little Pencil
For the Thursday Think Tank at Poets United: Playground