When you kissed me last night,
I was eight years old again, holding myself,
in the basement, where I used to hide
from the bruises
and kiss pillows,
Swear I’d never let go
And stroke my own hair
Chanting, “There there,
There there.”

In the tent where it happened
(I knew it would happen)
You broke open my chest
And out came home movies
Images projected onto you from my heart,
of little girls dancing, with brown hair
and barefoot
and spinning in gardens
their arms in the air.
When you brought out a blindfold,
a shadow man stood up
I couldn’t see him, but knew he was there
My body tensed, I
couldn’t breathe or be held
Your lips hard against me
Your yank of my hair
erected a barrier stronger than safety
of fistfights and soft spots,
impossible landmines
and mazes in countries
their kings without care.

Beyond the brass buckles
and past the last hammer
I want you to hold me, in light and aware
Of each twitch of my body, each soft mellow yearning
That calls out to you, beyond movies or memory
For comfort, for cocoa
For warm toast and jelly
For your arms, empty, open, defenses laid bare.
Come out of the dungeon
I want you to mean it
When you whisper,
“There there,
There there.”

Show More


As a toddler, Scarlet chanted, “I want to if I want.” That gutsy girl survived to tell the story--in memoir, film, and art.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: