Wayward Daughter

(Warning: this poem discusses the effects of sexual assault, and may be disturbing to some readers.)

Back and forth I travel, searching
for her – retrace every bend, curve,
detour – back to the water, the sand,
the beach where I lost her…haunted

by velvet brown eyes – bedroom eyes,
they told her, men with greedy loins,
calculating – I lost her to the lure of
alcohol, to the pounding beat of drums
in those smoky corners so far removed
from the purity of our dreams…

It’s been an arduous journey, some days
so lost in the daze of forgetting; I cycle
back, memories of manhood exposed
egos craving stroking, learning
what men wanted, learning to numb

disappointment with fast-talk
and all-nighters, suppressing tears
discovering that words hold no promise
and water is deep, and going within
is a dark, foreboding place, and worth…

is shrouded by the discovery
that the father she adored was not
as we’d thought, and that this primal
urge for mating was a trap….
designed to eradicate beauty,
not enhance it…

I need to find her,
hold her afloat in sacred waters,
help her feel the healing light
of a thousand women’s hearts
all bleeding as one,

all tainted by the same
convoluted messages –
that lust is sinful and copulation
a man’s domain, and that in order
to be espoused, she must forgo
her nature – tame the wild
settle…

but as much
as I travel these lonely roads,
I cannot find her, the traces of
her innocence washed away
by the tides…lines now
on this aged face

If you see her, please
hold her close…
hold her until the beauty
of her being is solid knowing
and the shame vanquished
Hold her till she understands
the light she was born to be.

( Wayward Daughter first appeared here in February, 2017, and was published in the anthology: We Will Not Be Silenced: The Lived Experience of Sexual Harassment and Sexual Assault…, by Indie Blu Publishing, 2018. This version is edited. I am submitting it for my weekly challenge: roads. Art my own.)

Just a Dummy

Words are not my own
wits hapless

That rendezvous
with the devil
sealed it –

Free will for love
I’d bargained

Ache of loneliness
too much to bear –

Now I’m just a puppet
ventriloquist’s dummy

Ask a question
watch him work my strings.

(Image my own.)

Hiding Shame

When did guilt obviate
the need for sustenance?

This deipnophobia paralyzing
heartless stares dredge up

my truth: insatiable hunger
need to stuff down emotion

the certainty that I deserved
the abuse – endless shame

My fork traces the outlines
separates food groups

My mind makes mental notes
of what I’ll gorge on later.

(Deipnophobia is the fear of dining in public. I watched my older sister avoid eating when with others, and then gorge afterwards. I had not known there was a term for it until I came across this prompt. Image my own.)

Confessions To A Dreamcatcher

Rebellion rages in my veins, Dreamcatcher,
so tightly wound I have blocked hope
I want to be good – a good girl –
like that man of God says
but his preaching ways violate
prophecies a cover for sin
and I am so sullied that I fear
love will distain me.

How did I get here, Dreamcatcher
childhood a lost notion –
I try to minister to the past,
but Father’s sermonizing possesses
even in death, his will a barricade
I need guidance to help me emerge

I’m an unreliable navigator, Dreamcatcher,
oppression’s familiar, no high able to release me
suspicion of promises nauseates
I’m tired of facades – good girl facades –
locked in this nightmare
won’t you please help me out?

(For Eugi’s Weekly prompt: dreamcatcher. Art my own)


Oppression’s Child

This outer toughness
just conditioning
a baby alligator
that’s me

Raised in a swamp
Eat or be eaten!
family mantra, and
Deal with it!

I know it’s a lot
to take in
see the disbelief
in civilized eyes

Resistance to oppression
begets deeper wounds
Fear taught me well
Survival, they say, of the fittest.

(For Reena’s Xploration challenge: featured image is prompt.)

Basement

Concrete is cold, imposing
does nothing for aesthetics

At least we’re protected,
I tell the littles, ignoring

Snot dripping, slime
oozing from unsealed
windowsills, cobwebs
and bits of shedding pink

It’s the best I can do:
four walls and a roof.

Except the ceiling
is bulging, mold and rot
certain to rain down on us

While upstairs, the man
ignores the leaks, luxuriates
in his abundance…Momma

Said marry a rich man,
you’ll be set for life,
but it’s dawning on me
there’s more to it than that.

(For Eugi’s Weekly prompt: dawning. Image mine)

Adultery

Mistake
Beg forgiveness
Repeat

Appearances sanitize past
Push dirt under the rug
Smother recall

Reason can be fraud
common sense out of order

Suspicions merit
an ear, listen
over din of betrayal.

(For Reena’s Exploration Challenge #135:  quotation.  “Always listen twice.  First what’s being said, then who said it.”  Image my own.)