Landscape

21 02 2014

This is a poem that I wrote for an online intensive that I did Called Digging Deeper Facing Self.  That was probably one of the best ways I could have started the new year, so now today I am trying to keep up with the good habits that I formed, even if it took a few weeks to get back at it.

Landscape

 

Tall Piney woods
Sway full-bodied in the wind.
The shadow of steeples always near
The dull, low, murmur of the prison count siren.
A giant blowing into an old glass bottle

 

Day in, day out surrounded by walls
The forest
The church
And prisons.

 

Preachers and Teachers are my people
Baptists as far back as I know
Proud people
Godly folk
Not ashamed of the twang in their voice,
Or the Bible that nuzzles up with the gun in the glove compartment.

 

Poor wandering preacher
A young wife who left school to fulfill her duty
Two small kids: boy, girl
Three hostages bound by holy matrimony. 

 

How often was my father told to be a man,
As tears from pain welled in his eyes?

 

A small boy
Beaten, switched, belted, and probably worse.
Did Grandad quote scripture,
While he whipped?
Or did the demons of his past take hold
And his eyes glaze over
The way my father’s later would?

Did the churches know?
Were there whispers at potluck?
Is that why he fled?
Church to church,
Was help ever offered to the poor wife?
Or did she have to make the bed,
She chose to lie in?

 

Only the boy was beaten
But all were terrorized.

 

I wonder what advent was like in that house
What did the Christmas tree look like?
Did my grandma play piano and warble Oh Holy Night,
While my dad and aunt hung the ornaments?

 

Father was always warm on Christmas morn.
We’d eat the sticky buns my mom had prepared
Sometimes though I’d see sadness in his eye

 

He did his best to break the cycle,
I think.
Sometimes it’s hard to say that:
My sister, screaming, beneath his bare back
Him holding her with one arm,
And the ping-pong paddle
Breaking across her back.
Not all his demons were mastered. 

 

I was so young;
My fear was born that day.

 

But Baptists are if nothing else,
One’s to forgive (on the surface at least)
Recommit to God
Atone, atone, atone for their sins
For all have sinned
Fallen short
Wanting, glory.

 

You don’t have to be re-baptized
That’s not strictly allowed
Once saved always saved
Whether you like it or not

 

So one day in Paradise
I guess I’m doomed to walk
Side, by side,
The miserable manipulative Abuser
That created my father. 

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