Ishizuka, Jessica

Grief-Stricken Heart

While raindrops fall steady on a dark night,

The cold rakes through my body sending chills

Inward and throughout, as my heart grieves

In all its aloneness wailing, quietly in pain

With no guarantee of it ever dying down

Or any part of my heart surviving this

Seemingly endless flow of warm tears

Drowning all of me from the inside out,

That I dare not let them out all at once

For fear of flooding the earth and…

All the beauty that has potential to be

…In my life, once my eyes can clearly see

Through this despair that does blind me


My Soul and heart hope that truth would be seen

So that someday my dream will BE a dream no more,

And my daughter will once again be with me

Back in my life and cradled in my arms

So I can protect her from all harm,

And Comfort and soothe her when she cries,

Not fail again to miss another smile or laugh

And love her, not just from a distance


But I don't know that she'll embrace me

Now, again as her mother, since,

I don’t know that she even knows I exist.

I worry that her love for me is no more,

But lost among everything else in tragedy

That does not change my own heart

Although it seemed to be dead for a while

Because beneath the shattered remains

Of the grief-stricken gap that lay hidden

Within my chest… All pure love remains

Although very rearranged by the pain…

That is intensely and furiously blinding

The courageous heart that once was

Known to this very vulnerable soul



Commentary on Grief-Stricken Heart

I wrote this poem at 2:00 am one morning while grieving for my lost child. It was pouring rain, and my tears were flowing, as well.

When I was 19, and already a single mom with a toddler, I married a former member of the same cult I’d left, on my own, when I was 16. I got pregnant a month after moving in with him; and although he started to display extremely abusive behavior, I thought I had no choice but to stay with him.

After four and a half years with him and feeling my soul was nearing death, I finally left him; but in the process, he, along with his dad (who was a previous leader in the cult) took our daughter and denied me and my eldest daughter any access to her. He eventually took her to the United States without my knowledge, and I spent years searching for her.

This poem is about the intense and overwhelming grief I have experienced through the loss of my daughter, which nearly killed me. It is about not knowing whether she was all right, or even alive. It is about the pain and despair that blinded me and blocked me from everything else life had to offer. It is about the lies she had been told about my not loving her or wanting her. It is about justice, and my dream of one day finding her and holding her in my arms and having her in my life and my daughter’s life again. In a way it is also about finding myself after this tragedy; healing my heart, which was so shattered I often thought I’d die of a broken heart; learning to open my heart, and love again after such an enormous loss; and living life as opposed to merely surviving, as well as trusting again.

*Since writing this poem I found my daughter and have been in contact with her by telephone—which has been an enormous dream come true. I am planning a trip with my two girls to see my daughter for the first time in 8 years. She is now 12. I know that I cannot get her back, partially because of the time that has elapsed... so part of the poem is and always will be a dream. But I am ever so grateful that we will see her again, something that for years I doubted would ever be a reality.

Spread Your Wings

Beautiful Soul,

Spread your wings that have been tucked away

Unleash your beautiful colors, and vibrant energy

Let your wings feel the wild wind, the warm sun

And give them a chance to open, stretch, dry, and heal


From all the years of pain and anguish

Turmoil, darkness, and sadness that they, that you

Have felt, and have stumbled through

Until you were tired and worn, and felt no more like flying

But curled up, then forgot how to use your wings


Rest Dear Love, feel at ease and rest

There is no rushing into flying just yet

But do know that when you are ready

You are most able to soar, like a Phoenix


That is reborn from the ashes, once the fire dies out

Transformed and healed, from the inside out

Washed and burned, and cleansed by the fire

To create a stronger, more beautiful creature than ever


Courage Dear Butterfly, when you are but ready

Let your wings take you where the wind dare not blow

And guide you to a beautiful life, that until now

You thought too joyous to imagine, see ahead, or know of


For it is there, it always has been,

Just waiting for you…

When you are ready to claim it, be in it, really feel it

With the entirety of your body and soul


May your heart be a guide for you

And let your dreams be a part of you

Your stars await you, to reach out and touch them

Dance with them, and make great use of them


Always know that if you ever  tire

And feel like you are falling through the fire

You may fear, but each time remember…

Great hands will catch you, greatness will guide you


And breathe vibrant new life inside of you

Allow you to rest, transform, and heal

And you will… if you allow yourself to.



Commentary on Spread Your Wings

I originally wrote this poem in 2009 for a friend who was at an all-time low in his life. After writing it, I realized that it applied to my life, and that it could also apply to just about any person who has gone through a rough period.

The symbol of the Phoenix has held a special meaning for me for years because I feel I have been burned to the ground time and time again; yet somehow I continue to rise from the ashes, with or without support from others. This regeneration affirms and celebrates that I have tremendous power within me, even though it appeared to be squelched by circumstances or people attempting to own and control me in the past. However frightening at first, each time I “go through the fire” and make it to the other side, I become stronger, gaining ever-growing awareness and healing, and acceptance of my experiences.

The poem is also a reminder to give myself permission to stop, rest, reflect, and center myself, in order to facilitate my healing, as an important gesture of self love. It is about the importance of being gentle with myself, not worrying about rushing my healing process but honoring my own personal unique cycle of growth; to follow my heart and live on my own terms rather than do what others expect of me. It is a reminder to honor and nurture myself and listen to my body and my intuition, rather than go against or ignore it, a habit that I formed as a young child in reaction to so much ongoing abuse.

Where I say, “greatness will guide you...,” I mean my core inner self will guide me. I believe our own answers are within if we have the courage to take the time to listen, and trust ourselves—something that cults don’t allow, and something I am still in the process of learning to do.

What Used to Be

There’s a pain I never will experience again

That I never want to experience again

The kind that seems to choke my heart

That keeps me from feeling whole

My soul feels vulnerable, and weak

Even when supposedly I am very strong


The pain is like falling into dark waters so deep

And never seeming to find my way back to the surface

It’s like plummeting into a never ending hole

And feeling the darkness surrounding me

Engulfing me in its blackness, and shuddering

Because there is nothing to hold onto

Nothing in sight, no one’s hand held out

To pull me into safety, and light


My heart is trembling with fear

My stomach in knots, and I can’t breathe

My jaw clenched so tight, it hurts

But nothing hurts more than the agony

My heart’s torment, this little girl’s despair

Feeling so alone, in this life, this world, this universe

Cries, tears that never stop, are never ending


But no one hears me, no one cares

No one that knows me anyway

It must be me, I imagine, it has to be me

What else is there?

Everyone else seems to be loved, cared for

By someone, somewhere

So I trudge along, all alone


There has to be something better than this

Something brighter than this out there

Someday as I’m falling in the darkness

Someone may just reach out their hand

Or even hear my mournful cries in the dark

I know I can hear them, every day I hear them

They are not out loud, but silent

Etching themselves deep in my mind and heart

That seem to gnaw at my very being

Tearing me apart, time and time again

With unending sorrow, misery, and grief


Sometimes it feels like I’m dying

Or something just like it

The pain can be unbearable at times

But little by little, I have learned to numb myself

So I don’t feel the pain, anguish, and utter despair

Only emptiness, coldness, deathly numbness,

I shut out my feelings, emotions, and traumas


Experiencing nothing is easier for now

Although, I am experiencing everything still

It is only quieter, quieter at the back of the mind

Clawing at my soul still, only…

I don’t listen this time, instead I block my ears

I don’t want to hear it, not anymore

If it is only about more wretched tormented sadness


I am done with this, Finished!

All I long to know about is happiness and true love

And all the lovely things I hear about

But have yet to fully experience

Except the joys of giving birth to my own

Although at the time, was mixed with great dread


Scared of looking scared to anyone

In case I might scare them away

Even though they don’t get that close anyway

I’ve learned to protect myself well

And forgot how to unprotect myself

And allow my self-built prison walls to fall

I’m in a protective, yet lonely bubble

That keeps most major pain out

But in doing this, I also keep myself from me

Who is stuck somewhere… who knows where


Piece by piece of me, I’ll attempt to find

A few I’ve found, and started piecing together

But others I search for still

My hope knows they will one day be found

Until I’ve put myself back together

And I am whole and complete again


Through this endless journey so far, I’ve learnt

That there is hope, a light somewhere

I know this, because I’ve seen it for myself

Experienced glimpses of it here and there

I am strong, I always have been


I just couldn’t see my strength, and my light

Where my black shadows were

When I walked through my darkness

That revealed my colorful brightness

I finally found that dark is good for something

For without darkness, there can be no light.