The Mother-Writer’s Gordian Knot

The tale of the Gordian Knot involves the legendary Alexander the Great figuring out a complex problem with a clear-cut solution. It’s also this week’s Tweetspeak Poetry Prompt. What came to mind was an Ah-ha moment I had on the way back from South Korea a few years ago. I was hopelessly stuck between two dreams: homeschooling my kids and launching a writing career. The puzzle was a redefining moment of chasing dreams. 

She walks in beauty,

She knows it not.

Mother-teacher, creative thinker, walking, wondering,

Pouring life into littles,

While longing for the pen

She occasionally whittles,

Between lessons and words spelled right.

Playdate adventures are small gains for hours of time in shoes tied

Or overseeing rock composition analysis.

Her Gordian knot rests, bound in her chest.

She tries to ignore it

Save the ballpoint by her bedside,

A weighty sword when wielded between second finger and thumb.

She vows to slice through the knot of learning, thinking, and experiencing

By reclaiming her stance as explorer and conquerer,

But there never seems to be enough time.


How does a woman give it all, do it all?

What if demands and daydreams can never together truly be?Tweet This

Inadequacy was the storm riding her out.


Ropes thickened, driving her to altars and panicked phone calls

For the husband to save her.

Shame rained on her high-capacity sails,

(Historically grand and fierce)

Taking her wherever she desired

The wind to blow her.


She thought herself a dingy

With a slit in her tube,

Made by the pervasive thought of

That darn pen.


She wrote on a blog in the westerly winds,

Storing unfulfilled wandering in her bones

Until she thought she would splinter, mast and all.


On the brink of breakdown and handing in her resignation,

She got an invitation,

“Come across the ocean. Come and recharge.

Reclaim. Rest.

Get away with Me.

Sail your sea-weary shipwrecked self somewhere



Money came through

With asking and a clear-cut miracle.

She set sail on a plane ship through the clouds to Seoul.

She flew and withdrew and slept off the lag in a high rise.

Awakening, she felt lighter from the scent of eggs, coffee, and baklava,

While a little cough festered in her lungs.


Her guide led her through city lights, ancient temples, and smoggy views.

Nothing really clearing except shadows of what she was not

And all that she had been trying to prove.

One day they slipped off shoes outside a bukchon,

Sat almost perfectly still, and painted tiny paper slippers.

She sighed as she fastened a jewel on a flower.


She sweat through her sheets the next day

Fever repurposing what only she could puzzle with God.

She slept through the ick and shuffled to the tea

She watched a season of Call the Midwife and moaned at the sun blaring through blinds.

Her friend felt her head, and beckoned her to arise on the day of her birth.

On a penthouse balcony with friends, she turned thirty-six in smog.

They ate cheesecake next to a cat who walked the balcony rail.

He looked down at the traffic and curled his tail curtly.


She walked, asking God, “What am I to do?”

A taxi beeped, “Be you. Be you.”

Her soul, a city of its own, harbored in gray,

Grew lighter in being, moving, and receiving.

Therein, a certain grace grew for not knowing

Just how to unravel herself.


She packed her pen tip next to pottery wrapped in socks.

Her new weapon became a giant red fan for her wall

Which was brown paper-wrapped with an awkward sticky cellophane handle,

More umbrella than sword.


The last day she carried luggage, her oblong package and the cough rattling her coils a little looser

All to the demilitarized zone.

There North and South, dictator and democracy were knotted in ribbons on barbed wire,

Sides never to be joined

Unless a side surrendered an entire nation’s way of life.

The border train station held hope-filled tracks,

Laid for a future meeting somewhere in the middle.

An eerie, proud fooling.

She vowed to never be this stuck.


On her sky ship home, she read a book, blue bike on its cover.

The mother-author said

She stopped homeschooling.

Life went on.

A permission slip folded in a white flag was handed to the explorer.

She picked up a pen,

Turned it upon her own breast

And bled through.

She sailed home in beauty, knowing this is her way

To everything she already was.Tweet This

Our family is now challenged to find creative ways to learn together in the short hours outside traditional school hours, a Gordian knot of it’s own. I have no regrets of choosing to begin a new adventure. I pray the same for you.

TweetSpeak Poetry Prompts

I love’s poetry prompts. They keep me working at the craft with a little spontaneity and a few ideas I never would have thought of myself.

Read the background of the Gordian Knot and take the poetry challenge right here.

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February 23, 2017