by Betsy Stewart 

Poetry, Heard/Arlington County Detention Facility/OAR writing contest, August 2021

I spent each day just searching for my purpose here in life

and still i could not find a reason to survive.

I struggled through my childhood without a loyal friend,

And every broken heart just [n]ever seemed to mend.

My parents didn’t have time to tell me they cared,

They never came to comfort me those nights when i was scared.

They told me to toughen up an’ don’t cry,

All i want to do is break down an’ just ask them why.

Soon my life fell apart,

All i wanted was there heart.

they couldn’t understand.

I turned to anything that could numb and bury all of my pain.

When my glass felt empty,

I’d fill it up again.

Over the years I drifted through many different towns.

Longing to find something to turn my life around.

I spent many nights alone, cold, hungry, and ashamed.

Desperate to find a warm place to stay.

As I lay on the concrete steps of a church to get some rest,

I felt the presence of someone gently kicking at my feet.

As i open my eyes a stranger stood and smiled.

I brought you something to drink

You’ve been sleeping for quite awhile.

He reached a sturdy hand to me an’ helped me to my feet.

I thanked him for his kindness an’ my heart began to weep.

This stranger gave me so much more than a drink to quench my thirst.

He taught me compassion and the value of self-worth.

From that day on, I grew to love those concrete steps much more.

For one day as I reached the top, I opened the door.

I held on to my tattered coat in hand and searched to find a pew.

I heard the voice of someone saying there is a seat right here for you.

For on that day my life began

an’ soon would understand

that even though i’ve made mistakes I was still worthy,

An’ this will always be my story.

This church Became my loyal friend,

the home I never knew!

I will always now have HOPE!