Hey Victoria, it’s really cool to see how you’ve been honing this. Because this piece has been through the edit mill quite a bit already I’m offering a few direct suggestions but obviously you’re the foremost expert on your own work so take what’s useful and leave the rest!
“lost in the festival fields of Ohio. What? / have I given in the name of love.”
I wonder if the hanging “What?” at the end of this line is doing anything meaningful for the way people are reading the poem. To my reading It seems potentially more of a distraction than a direct value to the piece.
“On my knees for how / now we say / I love you and / good-bye.”
how/now feels very Dr. Seuss to me and I’m wondering if something like, “On my knees for how / we now say / I love you and / good-bye” would feel more natural and keep the reader firmly in the flow of the poem.
“There / are days my hands become / steepled prayers calling to what is greater than / what I think.”
I wonder if simplifying this to something like, “There / are days my hands become / steeples calling to what is greater than / what I think.” isn’t a bit more powerful in that it communicates the same sentiment as before but with a more visual focus?
“I have come to know / you were never mine. I know / you belong to places I will never go, with / people I will never meet.”
Again, just wondering if simplifying the language doesn’t distill the message that little bit further like, “You were never mine. / You belong to places I will never go. / People I will not meet.”
The final suggestion I have is that maybe it would be interesting to explore more of a direct plea from you at the end. For instance, instead of “Take my hand through this.” something like, “Please. Carry me with you.”
Anyway, I feel like you’ve got such a strong sense of what you want out of this piece that, for most of it, it’s really just tiny potential improvements. The ending is the one place it feels like you’ve got a lot of room for experimentation left. Like I’m not sure you’re ending on what’s really at the core of all this yet. But, the way you’re writing and editing this piece makes it clear you’re gonna get there and it’s gonna be such a powerful piece for your family and for others! Keep up the awesome work!