Backpack, poem by Dwight Wolter

Dwight Wolter invites us to share with him this experience, his memory, the still-living beauty of his daughter Maya.

Sitting on a piano bench
talking to the children of the church,
bearing a burdensome backpack
bulging with school supplies.

I spoke of the burdens of school
as I removed & described each item:
books, pencils, rulers & erasers
almost too heavy to bear.

I removed a dictionary, nine pounds of words,
And a copy of Agatha Christie’s play, Black Coffee,
in which I once played a role.
A piece of paper fell, unacknowledged,
from the book to the floor beneath the piano.

After the backpack was emptied,
I spoke of other burdens children bear:
Not fitting-in, being bullied & belittled,
Wishing, perhaps, for a different family & body.

We are here to help you, I said to the children,
Come to us, let us come to you.
You are not the only lonely ones
Who carry faith in a backpack of hope.

Later, collecting my stuff from the chancel,
I picked up the piece of paper beneath the piano
on which was posted a St. Petersburg, Florida,
newspaper clipping, stating,
“Maya Wolter, age six, is declared an “Every Day Hero”
for donating her eyes and heart to other children.”

An unexpected stab to my heart,
one of countless so inflicted,
followed by a blessed realization
that through my daughter’s lifeless body
one child has been restored to vision and
two young hearts beat anew because of her.

Unwittingly, I had carried her backpack of hope
into a sanctuary of faith.

Thanks for the visit, sweet little Maya.
Until we meet again…

Rev. Dwight Lee Wolter
Patchogue (Long Island) New York

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9 Responses to Backpack, poem by Dwight Wolter

  1. What a powerful poem, every word a gem –

  2. rezrevres says:

    For all of us who understand the unanticipated death of a young child this poem evokes powerful memories from similar experiences. Thanks.

  3. ddl says:

    yes. beautiful. My condolences on your loss. Thank you for sharing her spirit (and yours) with us.

  4. Maren says:

    One loss is a very personal loss and yet the story of one loss heals others — one by one by one by two or three gathered together.

  5. Rosalind Gnatt says:

    I think of Maya often since you shared your story with me last year. As then, I am speechless, my friend.

  6. Carolyn says:

    I’m sure there will be many more moments like this one in your lifetime that Maya will gently tap on your heart strings to remind you just how close she is to you. And when you read a note, write a poem, or you think of a special time with her, she will be present on the same path you walk upon.

  7. What a beautiful compelling poem. Thank you for sharing. Blessings…

  8. Thank you, Dwight, for sharing this lovely poem. It is good to know that you did not silently refold the newspaper and place it in your breast pocket, never to let us know of your experience. We are touched by Maya’s presence that day, and by your beautiful way of caring for the children in your parish. Blessings to you.
    Celeste

  9. Erice Fairberother says:

    This brought tears to my eyes – thank you Dwight

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