A Poem Woven of Ache and Beauty

The CAFO “Families for Children” Conference today in Orlando pulsed with energy, stories and rich instruction on how churches can effectively act for foster youth and families.  One thing I’ll long remember is a poem written by Juliette Lauk, a 17-year-old whose vibrant smile makes a shooting star look dull.  Juliette spent much of her childhood in foster care before being adopted as a teen by a young couple just 14 years her elder.

The Lauk family shared their unforgettable story via live interview on stage.  It’s a story with hurts no child should ever have known…struggles and dashed hopes…and ultimately the formation of an unlikely family.

We hope to ultimately make the video of the interview—or at least audio—available.  But for now, Juliette gave me permission to share a poem she’d shared with me when we were preparing for the interview.  Written while Juliette was in the 10th and 11th grades, it speaks transparently of both the deep ache of her early years…and hopes born through her parent’s love.

No longer will I bleed

So pitifully I stretch

out my hand.

I clench my fist till my

wrist bleeds.

my body bleeds dry as

I sit in a closet in order to contain these emotions

in hopes they would

not define me,

yet they consume me,

they torture me and I bleed.

Those emotions release suppressed memories.

Displaying all my insecurities

mocking my dignity,

stolen from me

They take all the mirrors and

surrounded me

and I see nothing!

Not even my reflection.

However, I’m not sure if

I want to see my reflection

standing in a puddle of pain

I stood as my mindset

Is unable to move.

Still I get ready to smile

the camera captures on two

Right after that yellow light flashes…

I turn back to black to blue

I need not to be

placed in pity

I am already there

as well as the voices in my head, and

the shadows that

I could not run from.

With every step I take they

follow me, they take from me

till I have nothing but my name,

And I shall hold on to it

For it is the only thing

that remains the same.

It is the only thing I am

sure of and

though people may change it,

it shall not change

So I shall carry it with all its

disgrace. With all its shame.

I shall embrace it

With all its beauty

that will never change.

My only trace of consistency, though I live in constant change, inevitably

running from the shadows, that haunt me.

I ran from state to state of mind.

I shall run no more!

I must face those

who defaced my mentality.

Causing me to

Confuse my worth

due to the work

of human hands.

Given over to the ideas of promiscuity

because someone decided to

erase barney and barbies from

the t.v.

Games lost their meaning

“let’s play hide and seek”

In Fright, I would hide, in hopes that he

Might not find me,

Just for one night,

everything would be alright.

In my innocent

mind I wondered why I

could not just turn over the sand. Rewind time.

I wished someone could see in my hazel eyes

that I cried as I tried to

verbalize all the words I could not find in my undeveloped mind

to let you know,

I was becoming

a tool that grown men

masturbate to.

I used to sit in closets to contain

my insecurities.

Closets helped me suppress

those imageries and memories

of people who touched me

while claiming they would

protect me.

They spoke of love

I believed it to be fickle

Still I got ready to smile

the camera captured on two

Right after that yellow light flashes…

I turned back to black to blue.

After all the flashes, my light burnt out.

I walked in darkness.

When the shadows caught up with me,

I had learned that most people

believe what they were told to believe.

Manipulation was key.

I told them to believe the smile

That I had been taught to believe from a lot

of good liars: mostly me

But I took an eraser

to that smile

and ripped the ban-aid

off my heart.

I am prepared for surgery.

Ready for God to repair me

and whisper softly

to that little girl inside of me

something comforting

so that she may sleep and

no longer worry about the

monsters on her bed

nor the shadows in her head

They who have died,

Shall remain dead.

But I can no longer play dead

in a world I was born to live in

no longer can I survive off the

emptiness that filled me.

So I will re-open all

those self-healed wounds and allow

for true healing

When I gain the strength

to get up and walk out of the


I will claim his light

No longer will I look at

the distorted shadows of lust

I shall see the beauty of trust,

the beauty of life that the light brings

Finally I will be called by name: Beloved.

I will stretch out my hands.

No longer will I bleed.

I will stretch out my hands

and He will grab hold of me.