The next day, Mrs. Khoury announced, “Class, our first assignment will be to write a poem on a strong emotion. Emotions are vital in writing, particularly in creative writing. They make your character come to life. For example, if you were writing a story about a princess who lost her husband and did not describe how sad the princess was, the readers would not get a true sense of your main character. The same is true if you were writing a story about vampires falling in love,” she added, as the class erupted in laughter. “So let us brainstorm — what are your most common emotions?” she asked. Some of the emotions the students shouted out were anger, guilt, depression, pride, jealously, love, trust, patience, and shame. “Class, you are off to a great start. Pick one emotion and write in a notebook at least five words that come to mind when you think of that emotion. Then you will be ready to write your poem,” Mrs. Khoury told them. The emotion that Ilham wanted to describe was fear. She wrote down a list of what came to mind when she thought about being afraid. She wrote words like petrified, panic, anxiety, and dread. As Ilham walked home from school, she thought about more words that described fear. She knew that she was afraid of her life right now. She was afraid to trust and afraid to speak. Alarm, distress, horror, and terror all resided in her. Ilham wondered if those words explained the fear that seemed to paralyze her.
Later that evening, Ilham sat in her room trying to write her poem. “I do not even like to write. I want to drop this class. I hate this class. But if I drop this class, I will not graduate,” she said aloud to herself. Her mother overheard her speaking. She came into her room and put her hand gently on Ilham’s shoulder. “Ilham, can I help you?” Ilham’s mother gently asked her. “No, I will never be able to write poems,” Ilham replied in frustration
“Yes, you will. You are a sensitive person, and you can write. Please, tell me what your assignment is. Maybe, I can help you,” her mother encouraged her.
“I have to write a poem on a strong emotion for my Creative Writing class. I choose fear because I have been paralyzed by fear ever since soldiers barged in to our house when I was younger. Fear has become a part of my life, a constant presence,” Ilham explained. But I don’t want to write this. I think I will just drop this class.”
“You will not drop this class. Writing this poem can help you. Please try. I know that you can do it,” her mother said reassuringly.
Ilham said she would try. She continued to work on her poem for the rest of the evening, and when it was finally complete she felt relieved. A few days later, Ilham was sitting in her Creative Writing class again. Mrs. Khoury was getting ready to explain her next assignment. “Our next assignment is to write a poem personifying a color. Think of words that describe the color. Be as descriptive as possible in your poem. For example, if your color was red, you would describe how red is fiery and dangerous. Try not to reveal the color at all or not until the end. Personify the color so much that the readers will know what it is.” Ilham went home that evening and thought about her new assignment. She considered what color she should pick, and decided to choose white. In her mind, white was the color of purity, cleanliness, heaven, Mary, clouds, and the Transfiguration. On the negative side, white also meant frozen, fear, cold, and ice. She liked that the color white had so many opposing meanings. When she arrived home, Ilham started writing her poem.
This time, the words came to her very easily.
White permeates my being.
Fear seeps through my frozen veins paralyzing them.
Ice freezes my soul while I shout in anguish.
“Help!” I shout hoping someone will release me.
No one answers my frantic calls, while cold sears my body.
But suddenly, I know that Heaven is near.
Mary, the immaculate, watches over me.
“I am healed!” I cry in joy.
God, the almighty, is with me.