We Are The Capables: a poem of resilience

I'm Michelle!

I've learned that there is power when we share our story: scars, flaws, and all. It's within the imperfections where we find freedom. My blog is dedicated to this belief! 

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The sticky residue of past.

Those leftovers of being left. 

An innocent child stripped naked of worth.

Bare feet on a cold floor,

Arms shivering in fear.

“Here’s what you’ll wear now,” they said. 

Opening the closet of shame, we peeked in.

“Anything to cover up”… we whispered to each other.

Dwarfed by clothing that didn’t fit,

Little hands were grasping for identity,

As we stared at the labels on our shirts.

“These are your new names now,” they laughed as they listed them off:

Don’t bother trying…

You won’t ever be anything…

You’re not a little girl anymore…

It’s all your fault as usual…

You’re a liar…

Five children obediently wearing their clothes of shame,

Labels of limitation around their necks.

I’m still standing naked and alone.

“What’s my name?” I asked.

“Your mother’s not capable of looking after you,” was the reply.

I wanted to disappear.

To disassociate.

To dissolve into some other place and into some other life where the clothes might have a kinder fit…

Where the clothes were clean. 

Where the clothes smelled of a lavender-scented dream. 

Where the clothes weren’t soiled.

Where the clothes could be mine, and not the hand-me-downs of another orphaned child.  

“Did you hear me? I said that your mother’s not capable!” They smiled their sinister smiles.

I closed my eyes.

I wanted to scream.

I wanted to spit and spew all over their labels of shame.

I squinted my eyes and tried, with all of my might, to calm the swirling storm of lies in my head.

Not capable.

Not able. 

Not reliable.

Not acceptable.

I cupped my hands over my ears.

Still, the mocking continued. 


Mocking words.

Shitting on my self-worth.

Pecking holes through my spirit.

“No one will want you, stupid little bastard child,” the squawking continued.

You’re difficult to place…

You’ll never have a better life…

Who would want a girl like you?

Tears dripped from my cheeks.

“Stiff upper lip,” they ordered.

I bit my tongue until it bled.

Swallowing my blood like a bird to nectar…

Then, for some reason that I cannot explain, I lifted my chin and imagined myself with wings of a hero.

I saw myself cloaked, not in shame, but in a hero’s cape:




Of being loved.



Capable of surviving the labels until the day I might learn how to heal them. 

Capable of releasing myself from their sticky residue.

Capable of loving myself,

And of eating not on the leftovers of abandonment, but of feasting on life’s abundant promise.

I felt this promise as an orphaned child.

It’s what kept me going.

It’s what sustained me.

The promise nurtured me.

Mothered me.

My CAPE-OF-ABLE became my strength.

My coat of many colors.

My sisters and my brothers.

My voice.

My choice.

To speak.

To break free.

To believe that I am—as all orphaned, fostered, and adopted people are—worthy of dignity and of embrace.

We are not the labels.

We are the capables…


©MichelleMadridBranch, May 12, 2021

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  1. Dawn O’Donnell says:

    What an extraordinary poem.
    I have read many times and each time and I am overcome with emotion; new thoughts and feelings swirling in my head. Your words have opened up a new space in my heart. I now have a deeper knowledge and awareness of the orphaned, adopted and fostered child’s experience.
    Thank you!
    I will forevermore see them as the “CAPABLES “ they are, and with our love and compassion can be.

    “CAPABLES “ they are, and with our love can be.

    • Michelle Madrid-Branch says:

      Thank you, Dawn. I’m so very grateful for your feedback, kind words, and willingness to lean in and hear us. Sending my love!!!

  2. Kate says:

    This is beautiful for any child who grew up with a label, in those Less-Than hand-me-downs, in someone else’s expectations and accusations.

    • Michelle Madrid-Branch says:

      Thank you, Kate. Your words are so well stated. Yes, let’s help transform the labels!! Sending love!!

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Hi, I'm Michelle.
Your BFF + New Empowerment Coach.

I don't hold anything back anymore. I've learned that there is power when we share our story: scars, flaws, and all. It's within the imperfections where we find freedom. My life's work is dedicated to this belief! 

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