The Daughter That Never Was

The Daughter That Never Was

A Poem by Linda Marie Van Tassell

I will meet you in dreams of what will never be.

Let me preface this poem by saying it's true.
Some people will not believe it, and that's okay.
I can only write it as I was meant to do.
You can choose to believe it or throw it away.

I write this at a time when my mother has passed,
as autumn leaves fall beneath a colorless sky;
and tears, like rain, might as well be a bugle blast
whose song is sailing toward its final good-bye.

I must admit that I don't know where to begin,
as the beginning is like a rolling ocean.
Some will think me heartless, with the greatest chagrin;
but only I will know the depths of devotion.

My father was like the greatest ghost of glory!
Though he was dead, he somehow remained undying,
and she spun no truth in the web of her story.
How could I have ever known that she was lying?

He was a soldier, with his starry flag on high;
and I idolized him in my little girl mind.
My every breath affirmed, "Father! Here am I!"
I always wondered how he could leave me behind.

The years and memories shrivel into a scroll.
The past becomes present and present becomes past,
and a deep sorrow resonates within my soul.
I was her worst mistake - a nothing, an outcast.

Neither life nor death ever granted me her love.
I was a little girl with my heart in her hands.
I strived to make her happy: way beyond, above;
but nothing was enough for her unfair demands.

The cooking, the cleaning, getting straight A's in school:
none of it ever mattered in the palm of her plan.
Her cold-hearted criticism and ridicule
were mine, while she gave her love to some low-life man!

Her anger, her hate, her relentless, beating hand,
her cruelty, and her hurtful words still resound.
When a tree is rooted in a dying tract of land,
how can its young branches with life yet abound?

Eighteen years and nothing! She had no love to give.
I walked away and so we spent the years apart.
Alone and on my own, I found a way to live
despite the drowning in the deep well of my heart.

I found my father's grave, only to discover
that he was never a brave soldier after all.
She cheated and took his best friend as a lover.
There was no grace to come from such a mortal fall.

Twenty-three years old, and he ended his young life.
In a mangled mass of metal, he closed his eyes;
and his blood was on her hands, his unfaithful wife.
She hid the truth behind her secrets and her lies.

Unmarked and dishonored, his grave was stark and bare.
There was no name to mark his spot of hallowed ground.
Her malice, her hate, and her total lack of care
were like shackles that enclosed my spirit round.

Although no memories of father did I hold,
I marked his grave with his name and angels singing.
My first great achievement! I was nineteen years old
and battle-worn by the brush of tempest's winging.

No matter that we begged her to take us to his side
to place flowers where he lay his head in rest!
We were his two daughters; and yet, were both denied.
Never once did our shadows slide across his breast.

To make matters worse, as if it could ever be so,
her love-child was given his name, my father's own.
The deception, the deceit, the wrong and the woe:
it's a memory that should always walk alone.

How she could take her love-child to my father's grave!
Dust unto dust, may he forever rest in peace.
I'll never understand the whispers of the wave
nor these thoughts of mine that will not come to cease.

Uncle Jan cried with joy when I made that first call.
I never expected such a warm reception.
He said he always wondered what happened to us all,
and then he told me of my mother's deception.

The unanswered calls and the unopened mail �
she denied us a family or even the option.
Our names had been changed; yet, another betrayal!
She lied and said we had been put up for adoption.

It was December 14, 1972,
and the white page of dawn was blowing in the wind.
Joel Ray Van Tassell crashed on Fort Avenue.
With a snap of his neck, his life came to its end.

It was October 26, 2009,
and Aurora waltzed across the autumnal sky.
A telephone ring, a weeping voice on the line,
and the heart-rending sound of Stephanie in cry.

"Mom stopped breathing, and they are doing CPR."
The sound of the sirens screamed, "Get out of the way."
Nothing could prepare; no memories could bar.
There were simply no words and nothing I could say.

Brenda Luck Van Tassell broke her heart without gain.
She composed her fate in a rhapsody of blue,
and she surrendered to the sad staccato strain.
She is buried in Fort Hill Cemetery too.

Her hush and her mystery have drawn to a close
like the beat of her heart and the breath of her lips,
and the thorn is removed from the side of the rose
and the ring of light surrounding nature's ellipse.

I know that Stephanie will mourn and shed her tears.
She has the pictures, the memories, and the prize.
I have suffered the loss for over forty years
until the tear-tinged twilight shadowed my eyes.

I know that it's impossible to understand;
and there's nothing sadder than a soliloquy
from a daughter who was unwanted, unloved, and
who feels as if she were born to never be.

I could not go the funeral on Friday.
Though the reasons are many, it's mainly because
in her words, I was nothing and a nobody.
Quite simply, I am the daughter that never was.

I grieve alone; I weep alone � too deep, too deep.
I know that others will think me stony hearted;
but I find solace in the arms of sleep, of sleep
when I can dream of those who have now departed.

I will meet you in dreams of what will never be,
and I will drift on the hope of the sleepy waves
and dream that you are dreaming a dream of me
as you lay sleeping in the arms of your graves.

© 2009 Linda Marie Van Tassell

My Review

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WOW! An unbelievable display of emotions. A journey of true sadness crafted in such a way that completely captures the reader from start to finish! The triumph in this is that you were able to give this to the world with confidence, brilliance and in such a way that precipitates hope; even if it's just to express your pain and get it off your chest. I believe this piece has helped many!

Posted 8 Years Ago

Linda Marie Van Tassell

8 Years Ago

As a child with no one to turn to, poetry was my only confidant and comfort. It was like an old fri.. read more

8 Years Ago

Completely my pleasure and I KNOW I will be reading everything you have! I'm not usually a "fan" of .. read more
Isn't it amazing how the depths of sorrow; the abyss of personal loss, almost always whispers to the aching heart..."so, you gonna write, now, yes?"
Like there is some unknown force summoning us in the dark recesses of our souls; calling us to deliver( as in labor), the newborn passion we either ignored, was afraid of, or simply never knew existed...congratz, Linda....your child is born.
It looks just like you....

Posted 10 Years Ago

This is deeply saddening and really makes you feel the sorrow this person must have felt, Amazingly written.

Posted 11 Years Ago

THIS IS A MUST READ PLEASE!!!! WONDERFUL! all I wanted to do is hold the kids and help this women fine happynes this story is raw and hurtful but love at the end I can feel the pain in this story not every family is a happy family and people need to see that

Posted 11 Years Ago

Wow, this was beautiful. It's simply a very REAL story of people you might pass on the street and maybe you glance, wonder who they are and what happened to them. It makes me realize everybody has a story, something I've always known but have never FELT quite the way I feel it now.
Amazing story. Great poem.

Posted 11 Years Ago

Dear Linda Marie,

My, what an outpouring of pain and passion. It is stories like these from which we learn. A very human tale, filled with the pit-falls of human life. It is a tale of passions and emotions out of control, emotions that control us, control your mother. And the children suffer, not understanding. And how could they when there is no communication, no explanation. Cheated. That's the only feeling that can result. And one will never know if there is some reason, some explanation. And maybe there is no explanation, at least not one that makes sense to someone else.

This is a beautiful piece. One could quibble here and there that this could be fixed or this might be better, but that is true with every piece of writing. The fact is that your piece is tremendously compelling. It is a so human tale that touches the soul of your readers.

A wonderful accomplishment. I know that this poem must feel good to you, and there is a reason for that. It is a good poem and writing this poem WAS good for you. It was a needed emotion release for you and it the doing you have touched your readers, Linda Marie. That is the essence of great poetry.

My very best regards,


Posted 11 Years Ago

I wish that there were a disclaimer before this poem, that I would need tissues for my tears! Beautifully written, amazing poignant lines I think I sobbed hardest at

"I will meet you in dreams of what will never be"

How to pluck the heartstrings of a mother!

Excellent work.

Posted 11 Years Ago

This is a wonderfully written, carefully constructed poem-story. The rhyme is so natural, it feels like the poet always speaks in rhyme. I agree with FlawedbyDesign. This is a masterpiece. I can't come up with anything for constructive criticism, and I rather prefer to read it and marvel at your honest and poignant poem!

Posted 11 Years Ago

That was amazing. We have very simular lives. So sad......

Posted 11 Years Ago

This poem brought tears to my eyes. It's sad yes but, it is what is held within my own family that brought the water works flowing. I understand in some ways and in others I can never begin to imagine how you feel. I have lived in dysfunction ever since birth and I know that hardships which come from it. Hell, I'm still living in it. This poem is so awe inspiring, so moving and I am glad that you shared your painful story. Thank you so much for writing this! :)

Posted 11 Years Ago

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18 Reviews
Shelved in 5 Libraries
Added on November 1, 2009
Last Updated on November 1, 2009


Linda Marie Van Tassell
Linda Marie Van Tassell


Poetry has been my passion since I was about fifteen years old, and I love the structure of rhyme and meter moreso than just randomly throwing words upon a page without any form whatsoever. Whi.. more..


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