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The Power of the Pen
Jane H. Fitzgerald


A long-ago childish curiosity
sparked by a notice in a magazine—
"Seeking Pen Pals for Foreign Countries"—
spurred a young girl to write a letter.
It traveled slowly across the ocean,
taking weeks to reach its destination.
 The recipient was excited to see a
foreign stamp, writing back with fervor.
Letters criss-crossed the water for years,
girlish secrets bobbed on the waves
like a chain of small rafts forming a bridge.
Fifty years later, they still share their lives
in missives about family and growing old.
A single outreach by an inquisitive girl
Brought two diverse cultures together,
transcending time and space.

© by Jane H. Fitzgerald.
Used with the author's permission.  

Jane H. Fitzgerald lives in Jupiter, Florida. A retired middle school history teacher, she's a big believer in experiential learning and once developed a hands-on, role-playing curriculum for the American Colonial period. Jane loves interacting with children but has also taught English to adult Hispanic immigrants. The author of four books of poetry, her work has been featured in numerous journals. She hopes her words will foster understanding among diverse groups of people.





Post New Comment:
I had a penpal in New Zealand when I was 9. It was fascinating to hear about life on the other side of the world! Her family moved at some point, and we lost touch, but I still have her letters, on the special thin air mail paper with the red-and-blue bordered envelopes! "Par Avion" seemed so exotic!
Posted 12/31/2023 09:16 PM
Wilda Morris:
Interesting poem. I had a pen pan in Mexico when I was studying Spanish, but somehow we lost touch. I still think of Melba sometimes and wonder how her life has turned out.
Posted 12/08/2023 08:08 AM
Interesting to share your lives by writing across distance and cultures for 50 years! I especially enjoy this line: girlish secrets bobbed on the waves like a chain of small rafts forming a bridge.
Posted 12/07/2023 04:32 PM
Lori Levy:
Amazing story.
Posted 12/07/2023 02:19 PM
This is lovely. My cousin had a similar story, a correspondence begun before WW II with a girl in England. The correspondence lasted until her death. And they did get together several times as adults. Your poem beautifully expresses their experience, too.
Posted 12/07/2023 11:28 AM
Love the story in the sweet poem, Jane!
Posted 12/07/2023 10:49 AM
Inspiring what one unobtrusive note can become . . . bringing two together for a life-long friendship. The power of the alphabet, for sure!
Posted 12/07/2023 10:22 AM
Angela Hoffman:
Love that image of secrets bobbing on the waves.
Posted 12/07/2023 08:37 AM
Darrell Arnold:
I forgot to comment about "girlish secrets bobbed on the waves like a chain of small rafts forming a bridge." That is brilliant writing. Nice job, Jane.
Posted 12/07/2023 08:27 AM
Darrell Arnold:
This work is awesome. What a beautiful gift you gave to her and to yourself! Oh, yes, there's nothing quite so exciting and rewarding as getting a pen and paper letter in the mailbox. I have recently been in contact with many old classmates, coworkers, and acquaintances. They have all been happy I made the effort. So have I.
Posted 12/07/2023 08:24 AM
This poem reminded me of my long correspondence with a Japanese pen pal in high school. I still do love letter writing! Thank you Jane. I think Ill search for those letters in the airmail envelopes!
Posted 12/07/2023 08:06 AM

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