I never feared the monster hiding
Sliding out from under my bed
To grab me by the head and drag me
Into some dark, dIngy vicinity.
I had the real thing to fear. We all did
And it only hid when other adults saw.
The fear would gnaw at me forever
And I felt it would never let up.
A couple of times I felt I would die
Because I tried to stop it; to cry
To beg, to wheedle, to quake.
But I could not shake her hold.
I wasn’t all that old, but I began
To plan. I did her household chores
But she wanted more; laundry,
Preparing the meals she completed.
Defeated, I knew it was no good.
I had done everything I could.
I remember it. Oh, yes. Clearly.
Nearly every scene resonates
Grates and whips me relentlessly
Just as hard, and painfully as she
Whipped us; me and my brothers
Not acting like a mother, but mad.
Not so much angry as insane.
She was the bane of our existence
With no diluting of that phrase.
And it was not a phase, it was there
When we were home, alone
With her when she indulged her rage.
To that stage when she could not stop;
Not turn back and be the caregiver.
I still shiver. I feel the belts or sticks
Stripe across my back or my legs
When, begging, I tried to stop her;
Threaten to call the cops or something
But nothing worked since Dad was a cop.
The cops or the county would come by
When a nearby neighbor called on her
But when they heard our name, they stopped
And since Dad was a cop, they dropped it
And would sit and ask us in front of her
Whether she was beating us or whatever.
Never would we rat her out because
The claws would come out when they left
And she’d heft whatever she used on us.
And fussing and crying only made it worse.
Once a nurse turned her in to the school
And some fool from the county dropped by
To write down Mom’s lies and ask us again
In front of the woman from the welfare
And we were too scared to tell the truth.
We were in the beginnings of our youth.
How could we defeat a monster that knew
Where and when we slept. What could we do?