Poem with an explanation: one day they drove away

One day
they drove away
and someone said
how the future would be.

And despite the rationality
and even the equity
a harsh word was spoken
that there was no understanding.

And there in the back
as they drove away
the injustice held
a weight of bitterness.

And there in the front
as they drove away
they rationalized
and hoped that it would not be.


In this poem a family takes an older family member to a nursing home to live.  In the situation, a child in the car is upset that this has happened.

In the first stanza, the family is driving away from the nursing home after dropping the older family member off.  The child in the car thinks this is wrong and says to their parents that if taking grandma/grandpa to a nursing home is right, then one day they will take their parents to one.  They make the statement that what their parents have done will be done to them.  They do this to motivate their parents not to leave the older family member at the nursing home.

In the second stanza, the parents feel a sense of rationality and even equity in what their child was saying.  It does seem just to them that what they have done, should be done to them, at least on an intellectual level.

In a practical sense though, they don’t feel this should be.  They don’t see a connection between their treatment of the older family member and how they should be treated someday.  They get upset with their child, and speak harshly to them, and they say the child does not understand the situation.

In the third stanza, the child is bitter.  They feel that what their parents are doing is unjust.  They become bitter, and resolve that someday they will put their parents in a nursing home, as a means, in their rationality, to teach them a lesson.

In the fourth stanza, the parents rationalize their decision to take the older family member to the nursing home.  They run through reasons why “it is the best thing”.  As they do though, they hope the future the child promises will not take place.  They hope that they themselves will not be put in a nursing home someday.

This poem looks at the idea of justice in the sense of examining the idea of “what you have done to another, will be done to you”.  It looks at this from the perspective of the people who are doing the thing, and from the perspective of the person who will one day be in their place.  The poem in some sense looks at questioning current behavior under the thought of this idea coming to pass.

Artwork to inspire poetry: hand holding a pear

hand holding a pear

Above is an artwork of a hand holding a pear.  It can inspire poetry.  A poet could write about:

  • Focus. In the artwork, the hand is black and white and the pear is in color.  This might make the pear the focus of the artwork.  A poet could write about the idea of focus.  They could write about how people focus on one thing or another in different situations.  They could write about the implications of this.

  • Movement. The hand in the artwork is holding the pear by the stem.  It is almost as if the hand is taking it from somewhere or putting it somewhere.  A poet could write about this idea of movement and apply it to different things.

  • Ornaments. In some way, the hand appears to be holding the pear the way a person might be holding a Christmas ornament.  It is as if the pear is going to be placed on a Christmas tree.  A poet could use this idea in poetry.

  • Being pear-shaped. Some people consider themselves to have a pear shape.  The hand holding the pear could be used to metaphorically relate to this.  For example, if a person did not like their pear shape and they wanted to change it, they could interpret the artwork as meaning that changing their pear shape is in their hands.  Different ideas could be used as well.

Here is an example poem inspired by the artwork:

the three year old
stood by the wall
as everyone laughed and played
with the new baby