Holding up the sky #poetry #dVerse

I wake up tired from yesterday 
spent holding up the sky;
there’s seldom time to pause, or play
or ever wonder why.

I send the children off to school,
another laundry load
is done, while I feel like a fool
still struggling down the road

of holding up the sky each day
for each and everyone 
who ever walks my weary way
afraid to walk alone.

And is that why I carry on
still holding up the sky
although my work is never done
perhaps until I die?

I only have myself to blame
when all is said and done
it’s put up or it’s shut up 
until I put my foot down.

I feel I’ve really said enough 
so please don’t ask me why
it seems some people’s lot in life
is holding up the sky.

© Experimentsinfiction 2021, All Rights Reserved

I have a ‘caretaker’ personality…

I think this stems from my mum’s death when I was a young child. Since then, I’ve always wanted to put things right and try to ‘fix’ people. While this may seem admirable in the intention, it can lead to a whole raft of problems when you fail to realise that the only person you can really fix is yourself. It’s something I’ve been working on in recent years, and I am making progress. But that tendency to hold up the sky for everyone is still there, and I do have to ask myself, is it because I’m afraid to be alone?

Of course I don’t begrudge my kids a lift to school, or fresh laundry; the point about those lines is, I have to do all of this whilst holding up the sky, which makes it harder. Until I remember to take care of myself! I changed the penultimate line which originally read ‘it seems a woman’s lot in life…’ but this didn’t seem fair, especially in today’s world, I think this lot can fall to both men and women.

Sharing with dVerse Open Link Night live, where we will be reading our poems…

The Featured Image is from Blake’s Illustrations to Dante’s Divine Comedy, this particular illustration being ‘The Inscription over Hell-Gate‘ (if you look carefully, you may recognise the familiar inscription, albeit with a slightly different wording. I found this via the wonderful Blake Archive. I believe the image is in the public domain, but if anyone knows differently please let me know – no copyright infringement intended!

62 thoughts on “Holding up the sky #poetry #dVerse

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  1. Lovely poem. Reminded me so much of the children’s story when Chicken Licken thinks that the sky is falling on her head.

  2. Loved hearing you read this today….and now seeing the illustration for it. AND, most especially love that you are sharing your son with us 🙂

  3. This was brilliantly written – it feels like a poem that Shel Silverstein might have written for adults. I loved the repetition of those words, Ingrid.

    While this may seem admirable in the intention, it can lead to a whole raft of problems when you fail to realise that the only person you can really fix is yourself.

    Yes. This is true – I think my mother has such a personality, and it has caused a LOT of problems between us.


  4. This is incredibly, incredibly touching, Ingrid! 💖💖 It was wonderful reading you read tonight, and gosh Benji was a star 😀 an absolute delight.

  5. I actually think women in general are taught to always be the caretakers–or at least they used to be. My children seem to be less inclined to try to fix everything for everybody. it’s exhausting, as you note. I’m still working on it myself. (K)

    1. Yes certainly in the past they were. I once actually got told by a man ‘you should have a daughter now, to help you in the house!’ 😳

  6. I’ve found there’s always and ever a mythic context for what drive and despairs us … the caretaker keeps the universe solvent by shouldering all of it, a la Atlas. Big burden that makes for leaden expression. A lot of that weight comes from the whale (or mum) that got away. What would happen it the speaker let the sky go? I’d love to hear. Blake surely must have wondered too. (Through some quirk in the corporate works, I ended up with a complete set of his engravings for “The Book of Job” – there’s was a dude with burdens …) The psychology is the writer’s biz, but the poetics that guides this is poetry’s … (And where do flooding hormones come into this?)

    1. I think we can only write poetry if we let go the sky a little bit. That must be an artistic marvel! I have a reproduction of Songs of Innocence and Experience – so important to see how he presented his own work. I pioneer in self-publishing, I might add!

      1. Yes — whatever gods dominate us, pouring them out in poetry heals something in the compulsion, gives space to new courses …. I’m trying to create my God in the Tree collection in Blurb, pain in the ass. It should be a print book, e-poetry is such a difficult medium for this mind …

  7. A great poem Ingrid. You described your lifestyle of being a caregiver and holding up the sky for others very well. I live the term “holding up the sky”.

  8. As you describe, it can be fulfilling but also draining. I think of Atlas carrying the world on his shoulders and forgot whether or not it was his curse or his choice? I’m participating in A2Z 2021 every dad in April and one of the ladies is covering Dante. I bet you would really enjoy the series. If you want to check it out you can find it here:

    1. That’s a good question about Atlas – I don’t remember that either! Thanks for the link, this looks really interesting…

      1. It is! It talks about the personal connections Dante had with the characters in his Divine Comedy. Isn’t it ironic an epic poem about all the levels of hell is called a comedy? lol

  9. Touching and I imagine for many of us, all too familiar a feeling. Perhaps, while holding up that sky, turn your gaze into its depths and admire its unconditional beauty. There are so many shades of blue to behold. Much Love, j

  10. The repetition of your creative title is fantastic. One thought I had when reading that title is that as you hold the sky (for everyone) you also hold the sun – you and the sun become one. Shining and offering light for everyone in your circle. I know that idea doesn’t offer a respite, when you need time to pause, play, and wonder. Like the sun, it is hard to take a day off, but I hope you find those moments. 🌞 Being a busy mom with a caretaking heart is a never ending calling, but a most rewarding one. Hard to internalize as a “fixer,” but yes, we can offer light, but we can only fix ourselves. 💖 That is more than enough most days!

  11. It’s a control issue for many of us. I am learning to let go more and more and just trust God. I always want to save people as well but unfortunately, it’s not always possible. This was a good reminder for me!

  12. Love it gal. Loved your explanation too. I have definitely been this person a few times in my life, or rather for a few long times. Not healthy and in the end not nice for others either. I have to keep reminding myself each day. This morning I realized I was falling into some old patterns and something had to give way. Anyway, great post. 💗 xoxox

  13. Oh yes, Chicken Licken or Silverstein for adults! This is such a familiar scenario, which you’ve conveyed so vividly, Ingrid, not only in the whole poem but in just the phrase ‘holding up the sky’. The funny thing is, I miss it, even though Ellen left home the same year Princess Diana died, I still feel the hole in the nest she left behind. I’ve been watching her hold up the sky from a distance since Lucas was born. I’d love to be on hand to help out when she needs me. At least I’ll get to do that for a week in June. 😊 My nan was exactly the same, always there to put things right and try to ‘fix’ people.
    I love Blake’s art, and I remember this image from an exhibition in London many years ago, from which I had an amazing catalogue that, sadly, got lost in one of my many moves. I am certain all of his work is in the public domain.

    1. Thank you Kim! I seem to be getting behind with all my reading and commenting today, sorry 😅

      I don’t ever mind holding up the sky for the kids, but when I start having to do it for others as well it can be exhausting. Then others do it for me sometimes too!

      I saw a Blake exhibition in Oxford a few years back, which was wonderful.

  14. Very honest piece. If you can find joy in what you do, then keep on caring for all, just make sure you add yourself to the list, in pole position. A better you, takes better care of others, and can feel zen while at it.

    Don’t mind me, just my random youthful philosophy

  15. Has an atlas feel to it for me; of course, There’s so many beside you perhaps we can share the burden of the sky, or at least lighten the experience in between loads of laundry and dishes. Great poem, Ingrid.

  16. This is beautiful Ingrid — wonderfully honest and insightful. Certainly someone needs to hold up our section the sky is, lest it come crashing down on ourselves and our love ones. Some, like yourself, are more quick to place their hand solidly to the task, and thankfully so. It was a pleasure hearing your excellent reading yesterday, thank you. 🙂

  17. the poem is powerful and relatable … a reflection of my self-pity parties as I am a peacemaker. I think holding up the sky would be even more tiring … we can only fix ourselves and the world wont cave in if you leave the laundry a day or two 🙂

  18. there’s seldom time to pause, or play
    or ever wonder why.

    There are enough things in life that occupy our attention. It is great to help out others as it will come back to make life easier to help more of the others. Good move Ingrid!


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