Child of Stone

Only a shadow, head pressed
against the far closet wall, pigtails
tickling my bare shoulders,
I listened to the whack of grandfather's
cane against grandmother's back,
the thump when she finally fell to the floor,
her pleas for mercy...

It was the last time she tried to save me
from his pawing and thrusting, his hands
slowly peeling away layers of my childhood.

I imagined myself donning a Superman cape,
bursting from my safe place to carry her
to where no beatings could follow.

She went there, herself, ten years later.

I still think hearing her cry was harder
than just letting him try to fuck me.
By five, you see, I already knew how
to turn myself into stone, to feel nothing,
to hope for nothing.

Pris Campbell

Published in The Denver Syntax 2006  Issue 7

Art by Jean Deville
   from the ArtMagick website

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