Today I learned that a former student, and dear sweet girl died. Authorities are looking into the possibility of suicide. They suspect drugs were at play.
When I first met Ashley, she was 15 years old. She had run away from home, and she was scared. She walked into my classroom in the juvy looking as if she was about to cry and swearing she would never be back.
The problem was, Ashley kept running away. And when she ran away, she ran to the arms of a much older man who introduced her to meth. Meth took over Ashley's life.
And promise as she would to never return, the call of the meth was always too strong I guess, and Ashley was back time and time again. Each time she was a little thinner, looked a little less healthy, looked a little harder around the edges.
But inside she was still just a girl. When Ashley laughed the whole room lit up; she shined. Everyone seemed to love Ashley. She was kind, and funny, and wanted so badly to live a good life.
When she was 17, I wrote this poem for her, and a few other students at the juvy who were 'repeat offenders.' I was inspired by Allen Ginsberg's epic "Howl." And while this will never be anything like Ginsberg's literary accomplishment, I offer it now in memory of the sweet spirt I saw in Ashley.
May she finally find the peace she sought, and may her soul finally feel free. Rest in Peace, sweet child. You were loved.
I Have Seen
I have seen your generation.
I have seen your mind.
I have seen the best minds of your generation given over to self-despising, apathetic, complacency,
"This is how it is…
This is how it is…
It is NEVER going to change."
I have seen you walk in
Eyes glazed over and soul-less
A body of skin and bones
I have looked into you
And seen nothing but darkness
I have seen you eaten away by meth,
by an addiction you give your life for,
as you say
"This is how I am…
This is how I am…
I am NEVER going to change."
I have seen you cry.
I have seen you cry,
and I have seen the tears wash away the cloudiness.
I have seen the flicker in your eyes.
I have seen the fire in your soul.
I pray for the day you see freedom.
I pray for the day you fly.
I pray for the day you shout to the world,
"This is who I am…
This is who I am…
I am free at last."
I have seen the best minds of your generation.
I have seen you