Poetry: “Not Letting Her Go”

Hey guys! Here is a new poem I wrote for my poetry class about Tourette’s. The first part of the poem is based on and about when I was holding a young girl’s hand at Camp Twitch and Shout who also had Tourette’s and I felt like I was holding the hand of a younger version of myself. The second part of the poem is based on a video I have of myself ticcing in dance class from when I was little:

Passing by the gates of the pool her hand was in mine

squirming like a wet fish.

She bounced as she walked,

her bare feet playing games with the freshly

cut grass that smelled like broken avocados

and dusted peanut shells to me.

She tapped her fingers against my palm like a song

and I held her hand tight so she wouldn’t run.

It was my first time holding a hand so small

a hand so much like my own and

I didn’t want to let her go.

She didn’t know my fear yet.

She didn’t know the fear

burning blue like sulfur flames

pulling air from my lungs,

the fear that suffocates.

I didn’t want to let her go.

It would come later, this knowing,

later when she watched the videos

that her mother had filmed of her in dance class

wearing the pink leotard, the black tutu.

Standing in the line with the other girls,

they would be singing and blowing kisses,

spinning in fluid motions like little pink

wind up dolls in painted music boxes

and she would be trying,

trying to be that little pink wind up doll too.

But she would be interrupted,

interrupted by her own eyes that couldn’t help

opening and closing,

opening and closing.

Interrupted by her hands that were no longer

gracefully rising and falling

but instead had found their way up to her face

on their own,

instead were hitting themselves against her cheeks

and her mouth

and her tongue.

She would taste the salt of her hands


Her palms would taste sour like grapes

picked off the vine, still small and green.

Her lips would pucker from the taste

and she would wonder

why she couldn’t keep dancing

why she couldn’t be that wind up doll in the music box.

Then her legs would tighten,

she would fall,


crumple beneath the weight of her moving body

and the other girls, they would look

and she would feel


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2 thoughts on “Poetry: “Not Letting Her Go”

  1. This is beautiful Ruthie. It must have been incredibly rewarding to see your life in that girl’s eyes. Keep up the great work here and with your site!

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