Even though I freely talk about my domestic abuse, it’s still a hard subject to broach. First, it’s important to acknowledge my story isn’t everyone’s experience.
I was abused at an early age from the time I was 9 until I found the courage to leave home at 16. Mentally I was made to feel less than and worthless. A lot of the mental juggernaut was from my mother’s religious hypocrisy believing I deserved to be punished for my hearing loss (I wasn’t deaf yet), even though she herself was hard of hearing. She turned a blind eye to everything that happened to me, deeming it god’s will.
My stepfather was the penetrator of sexual and violent abuse. I outed that abuse in my poem ’When Hunger’ published by Temz Review ( https://www.thetemzreview.com/sage-ravenwood.html ).
Growing up this was the only kind of love I knew. I never escaped when I left home. There was always an abuser. If not violent, mentally degrading. Human beings tend to seek out the familiar. My normal was a far cry from anything safe or loving.
I Only Know After
That whole look what you made
me do, girl, bitch, your fault,
trifecta after. The before
there are too many reasons for.
That holier than thou drumbeat
against a wall, rabbit quick;
Gaping hole fist sized, skull sized,
never quite body bag size after.
Split lip, puffer fish (you look fine),
I can’t even see blood gorged eye,
you’re a bruise eater after.
That cracked bone, indigo
finger print body canvas after.
Get it yet? Hush, Mr. Policeman,
stop asking. I don’t know why.
That whole knowledge
is power, save my ass knowing.
Better remember quick like,
those rabid sucker punches,
face palming, gripping your face
after. Too soon after.
That pink water, creeping crimson
river; is that blood, glass,
flesh, what even after.
The over, done, finite, muted,
can’t feel my body, exasperated
I’m still here after.
Holy damn, I’m smiling,
the mirror is lying.
Quiet now, we’re not done after.
Bruised thighs, take a lick, a knee.
And I still don’t know
what the hell, I did after.
Glanced sideways, spoke too soon,
breathed wrong. Bloody bubble snort.
How many five fingered discounts
Before the cracks let the light out after?
I knew how to survive inside the violence, a fist said love. My poem ’Sparsely Decorate’ tells the story of my awakening. I was more concerned with saving a tree than I was for my own life. Sometimes it’s the strangest things that breakthrough. It took a year after that incident to walk away to begin the journey of healing. I believe it’s also why I rescue, saving animals is another form of trying to save myself.
She was evergreen, coniferous, Douglas Fir in
appearance. As real as could be, to a heart who
loved the forest deep – untouched. Wire branched
soft pricking needle spread tipped like an open
hand delicately waiting to be held. Built level by
level into her mountainous 7ft girth. See how
she now lies beaten, felled, stomped to pieces;
abandoned/trashed amid shattered ornaments.
Much like a woman bloodied and bruised beyond
pain. There lies childhood and every inescapable
holiday dread. How does a babe birthed on this
day, save a wretched tree, when home
is where pain gets swept up in broken shards?
This is how: twist the branch arms tenderly like
a child playing doctor with wire and duct-tape.
Branch by branch love/care, speak softly to the
wounds, build her from root to trunk, strengthen
from the base up until she can once again stand
on her own. Sparsely decorate with parts of
us left unbroken; shining half lit brightly into
the night once again. This is how we survive
our broken places.
I have days, I still fear looking in the mirror horrified at what I might see, no matter how much time has passed since the broken bones, the full-body bruising, and the bloody remnant of who I was. Moreover, like most victims – I still blame myself for everything, my childhood, my desperation for love at any cost, my disability, even my indigenous blood.
is a deaf Cherokee woman living in upstate NY with her two rescue dogs, Bjarki and Yazhi, and her one-eyed cat Max. Her work can be found in Glass Poetry Press – Poets Resist. She is an outspoken advocate against animal cruelty and domestic violence.