The first time you flipped was at a bus stop;
            it was dark, the street was quiet and empty.
I can’t even remember what the trigger was;
                        does it matter?

You blew a gasket, screamed and stamped your feet;
            red face and small piggy eyes.
I had committed a crime, which one I don’t know;
                        does it matter?

From that moment on it was a rapid descent into an inferno
            to the beat of your paranoid, psychotic and violent rages.
Nothing I said or did was right, though I’m not sure why;
                        does it matter?

Always the same pattern, some invented crime
            that needed to be properly chastised or punished.
I was told I was selfish, spoiled, in need of correction;
                        does it matter why?

I didn’t wash the dishes—crime
I washed the dishes—crime
                                                            and punishment.

The need to hit me wasn’t as big as the need to humiliate me
            but you said I deserved it.
I locked myself in the bathroom because I knew you would kill me;
                        does it matter why?

I learned my lessons:
Thou shalt have no friends,
Thou shalt have no family,
Thou shalt have no passions,
Thou shalt have no needs,
Thou shalt have no independent thought,
Thou shalt have no God;
None but me.

The all too familiar patterns taking shape
when you live with someone who needs to
            dominate, humiliate, castigate, subjugate, desecrate.

But I wasn’t a child this time, no longer frozen and silent.
I tried to argue, reason, fight; I tried to
            placate, rotate, corrugate, amalgamate, conjugate.

In the end, I knew, I could not change anything and
I was not a child now;
I didn’t need 17 years to leave this time.

I could leave, I wasn’t
            powerless, helpless, clueless, hopeless, loveless.

In my mind I was me and
you couldn’t touch my soul.
Not even when you silenced me,
            by proving you could squash me,
            by taking what was not given.

I can’t breathe;
silent tears
            coursing and
                                    down my face;
it will hurt less if I don’t move.

Don’t move.


Just a few more minutes and
I can go and never come back.

A body is only a shell—
you cannot touch the spirit inside.

No, you can’t touch me.

Later, you cried and said you were sorry,
but I knew you were lying.

Being sorry means never doing it again.
Being sorry is acting on your promise to change.
Being sorry means blaming yourself,
not everyone else.
                                    Not me.

Thou shalt not take what is not given.

You threatened to kill yourself but
you’re still alive and breathing
so you must have lied, again.

Maybe I should have reported you,
hung, drawn and quartered you.

But it was enough that I left and that
you can’t touch me.

Did it matter?

but not enough that I would turn the jagged sepia memories
into an altar of bitter regret and self-loathing.

I am still me, with a life full of
beauty and
independent thought;
even laughter.

You could kill us,
            and that you certainly did;
but you could not kill me,
                        not me, oh no sirree!