Tag Archives: shaken baby syndrome

For My Mother

I wish the last face I ever saw was yours
Your bright green eyes, your complexion warm and kind
That would be a sight worth cherishing, after I saw nothing more
And your smile, the one expression etched forever in my mind

That look that says, I will always love you fully
I would carry deep within me, to return to, home inside
A stable touchstone, a reminder, that I am whole and holy
Whenever I am struggling, each time I long to hide

I’d replace that ever-present, soul-seared sneer of hate
With the colors of compassion in your soft soothing gaze
And in the places where the harsh shadows wait
Yours would be the lingering face, the gentleness behind closed eyes

I wish I could erase the projections from my map, the fear and false belief
With its overgrown topography, all that’s cruel and haunted
And in its place I’d trace an infant’s landscape in relief
The clay composed of safety, trust, and always feeling wanted

And if I could give one gift to you
Here’s what it would be
To discover, despite all I’ve been through
Your picture in a memory

*********

The last face I ever saw, the only face I have a visual memory of, is the face of the person who abused me when I was six months old. Until I recently recovered the memory and varified it was accurate, I never realized that the face I imagined often in my mind’s eye when I was beeing the cruelest and harshest on myself was identical to this person’s face.

With that discovery, I started to wonder what it would have been like to instead remember my parents’ faces (my brothers weren’t born yet.) I wondered how it might have been different if I had internalized the loving faces of my family, before they had to face what happened to me: faces that held the joy and love of two people who had just brought a new child into the world. If I had a visual memory of that love, even if everything else happened as it did, what might be different?

And for someone who has always believed it was impossible to remember what it was like to see, having even just a glimpse of that experience is still taking a lot of time to process. It was like gaining and losing something simultaneously. And the rest I don’t have words for yet.

For The Sighted Child Who Never Woke Up

Last night I rocked you in my arms,
To the rhythm of the question which I ask with every heartbeat, why?

Did I think silence would answer me,
When I wondered aloud whether it was my fault?

Into the darkness you fell and could not rise,
Covered by a blanket of night without stars,

So do I run after you like a spark,
Or leave you behind without a word?

Crawling under the curtain between worlds,
Passed the water drip of time,

As if I could find within myself, still breathing,
You buried within the hollow hills of grieving.

Unable to defend your small fragile body,
You cry out for shelter, you almost died crying.

I am unable to notice the hands that reach out,
Convinced that, as before, my tears will banish me.

The infant with your perfect eyes and hands,
How can I conceive of you as my beginning?

If I was stronger, perhaps I could recover your memory,
But like an island, uncoordinated, that has lost it’s place within its map,

I wandered off into the mist, directionless,
And lost myself beneath the waves.

What am I doing here,
Convinced I don’t deserve the sunrise I won’t see?

How will I love, accept, and mend
The imperfect pieces left to me?

Again I will water the seeds of our growing,
Despite my anger, in knowing it is most likely too late.

Because I tried to heal
But merely broke apart, revealing

Sleepless dreams I tried to hide,
Someone else’s hope, so long ago denied.

Before giving into my unknowing
Of where, and if at all, I’ll stand,

I return your bright six-month-old smile
That has not yet known the cruelties of the world.

Faced with what I could have, ought to have been,
Our eyes lock and then

I let go, the girl who lived,
In relief, great tides, wash over me.

And so I shout a reckless challenge to the wind,
From a place that has no name, what might become of me I just don’t care,

I stare into the face of death until it blinks,
And I know now we do not die, there is nothing left to fear

For the sight child who never woke up,
I return for who I was, ever safely keep you near.

And now, once more in sunlight, though we did not travel far,
Dear child open your eyes, awaken to all you are.

For The Protection of Our Children

<Ask a child’s silence to speak
And you will learn truths you’ve never wanted to know.
When will it be time to raise our voices from the dead,
When will it be time to break our silence?

Victims are defined by spaces, behind closed doors.
I survived—formed bubbles under my skin
To trap the pain.

But one day they burst,
And when they did, acid rain
Poured over whole villages,
Turning their sands red.

There is no scissor-curled rainbow for our stories—only blackness,
When will it be time—boom, boom, boom,
Black echoes in an empty room.

We seal up the places where we’ve been marked
By hands like barnacles, wounded<
Against the tide’s rushing out like breath.

So I try to understand how I could have been
Shaken by a nanny who left me blind
An infant no stranger to death.
Aching to be found.

We lock pieces of ourselves in the past
Afraid of our own shadows,
When it's the adults that hurt us
Who are the monsters of their own closets.

When will we shatter the hourglass of secret time?
How do we mend those childhoods broken
By parents who are themselves approaching darkness 
Encroaching on long dreamless nights?

No wonder many do not speak out
Almost killed for our crying
Those who should protect and care for us
Cut us off from ourselves with the skill of a surgeon.

Rise up out of ash, left by the light we were born with
The tears shed then.
Our only hope for oasis
In the desert of the deserted.

Sound is red and raw, who counts the wounded?
The house of intelligible action
Lies, in shambles.

Truth keens across the chasms that remain
Truth keens, keys bleed,
Screams listen,

Silence shrieks in opened doorways.
How do gods determine when justice has been paid?
The bean sidhe will not rest tonight,
Nor will lurking shape-shifters with the beady eyes that glisten.

How dare anyone break a child.
Who among us dare speak a name?
None in this world or the next will claim you:
To harm a child is to will yourself a slave.

You who use and abuse the least of us,
You sign the warrant of your own exile.
Trapped inside your skin, no kin or kind,
Separate beyond ken, your prison is self made.

The time has come to break the silence,
The time has come to raise our voices from the dead,
To seek to put an end to this unconscionable violence,
Until our seventh generation knows nothing of such pain.

Forget-Me-Nots

Dear broken little boy
We’re sorry you’ve been molested and abused
Your priest said he did nothing wrong
But nobody should ever have to be used

We hope that you don’t mind
That he’s now preaching down the street
All of his acquaintances
Swear he’s really nice to meet.

Dear shaken little girl
We’re sorry someone caused you to go blind
You didn’t see long anyway,
I’m sure that you’ll adjust just fine

Your nanny’s gone to work with other kids,
We Hope you have no problem with it
The very minimum of charges against her have been filed
We prayed for her soul, she didn’t mean to be unkind.

Dear battered woman, dear shattered man
Dear victims of slavery, misogyny,
Those estranged from their homeland
Your government and social worker’s done all they can

We’ve issued an apology
But don’t think sorry
Means we understand.

We’re glad that nothing like this ever happened to us,
We hope that you can cope
And act like nothing is amiss
Whoever did the things they did to you
Might be tried and caught, but probably not.

There are not enough resources,
Or people who care
If while you grew up,
Love was just not there,

We hope it won’t affect
The way you do your job.
You’re an inspiration,

Here’s a get well card
From the corporate mob:
Your reparation,A bundle of roses
But no forget-me-nots.

Dear grieving teenage mom who could not have her child
We hope that this experience turned you off from living wild
And your endless sorrow has convinced you that abortion’s always  wrong
You should have been strong and kept your baby alive.

We’re the ones who warned you with our “educational” signs
Depicting four dismembered infants above the slogan “right to life,”
We’re just looking out for unborn children we don’t want them to die
Just don’t ask us to protect them, that’s all done on your time.

And while we cause a scene and tell you how to live your life,
We cut funds for schools and childcare and we still sleep through the night.
Once the children are born, we’ve won our fight,
Especially when they’re disabled or poor—remember, working is their right.

We’re glad that nothing like this ever happened to us,
We hope that you can cope, come home to the god in whom we trust
Whatever the circumstances
A man just never was at fault, absolutely not.

There are not enough resources
Or people who care.
With nothing growing inside you,
How could love still be there?

We hope it won’t affect the way you feel about God’s Word
You’re an inspiration,
Here’s a get well card from the evangelical herd:
Your reparation, a bundle of roses
But no forget-me-nots.

No forget-me-nots,
Because it’s safer to forget,
But what’s remembered lives,
And I cannot forget you.

No forget-me-nots,
Because then we could not forget
That what’s remembered lives–
And I could not forget you.

Go out and smell the roses but don’t grab fistfuls of thorns
Whatever we ignore leaves its red stains,
Its sharp pains,
Its stark remains upon our hands.

I will take your hand,
Wipe the tears from your eyes,
Forget you not.

Dear child of this universe
A lifetime in every cell,
The world shines with your radiance
Though you’re just here to be yourself.

And all that you’ve been through,
A testament to strength
While you lived or you died fighting,
It never was in vain.

Love is not a thing
That you can win
Or force or gain.

Dear tentative night traveler
Who’s never felt at home,
Hope is not outdated,
Nor is empathy outgrown,

And there will still be wonder
Long after you make your life your own.
You let the feared wolf hunger
And the loving wolf has won.

There’s no need to run for cover,
You’re safe here,
And you are not alone.

We know being human happens to every one of us
Through the pain and darkness, hope shines everywhere we touch.
Whatever your circumstances,
It won’t always be easy, absolutely not.

It’s hard to find the resources but most of us do care,
Dreams will grow inside you and love is always there.
You will find yourself again along a spiral stair,
And realize there’s so much laughter, and joy, and tears to share.

You’re an inspiration just because you dare
To breathe your spirit of life into everything you are,
No matter when or where.

Don’t bother with the reparations:
What could they be for?
When you’re already whole and forgiveness won’t keep score,
Half-baked gestures of apologies just won’t fool you anymore.

Life’s not just a bed of roses–
A door that opens often closes,
But if you find yourself outside,
Don’t just stand there looking in.
What’s remembered lives, I’ll forget you not.