Saturday, April 27, 2013

After the screaming stopped

After the screaming stopped

She stood on tiptoe

eyes level with 
The Harrowing and
breathed an oath
to self with seven 
year old lips shivering
in the thin air of that night

She stood on tiptoe
"I saw" she'd later swear 
but she was seven 
either unreliable or
standing in pajamas
so thin - transparent 
light shone through 

She stood on tiptoes 
and she swore 
that even after grubs
feasted on her marrow
she would march to her
own singular drum 
beating her own rhythm 
of rare pure certainty 

She swore this silent
oath to her small self
that never would her own
dainty daughter stand
on tiptoe in any star soaked
future night

never would her daughter 
peek through a cold 
window - trying to guess
why Mother 
would allow herself to lie 
lip bloodied - limp legs 
flung wide - under him

Standing on numb tiptoes 
she warmed her future 
child - swaddled in blankets
soft with protection and 
sweet lullabies

Standing on tiptoes
she vowed Never to be
the rag doll woman 
cast-off - crumpled - 
preternaturally still
as her heart pounded
in that final frigid night 

On bare tiptoes
she held onto the sill
outside their window
under cold staring stars -
ice chips glinting in black night 
clenched toes, wide eyes
transfixed after she threw covers
and fled the precarious safety of bed 
awakened by that sudden silence 
and the sudden stop of the constant
shimmer of screams.


  1. This is so vivid, I can picture that little girl staring out the window, so sad and your final line takes my breath away.

  2. This breaks my heart, well done with the repetition this is a beautifully written

  3. Whew, this took my breath away. I hope she never DOES become that 'rag doll woman.' I hope her resolve holds!

  4. I'm in agreement with Stan, Pearl. Holy buckets, this piece carries a chill. Thanks for shedding light on abuse. Its prevalence is daunting. The abuser gets it in the end of mine this week. ;)

  5. Wow, this really packs a punch and I mean it both ways. I was inside of that little girl and you made me believe she was really there on the outside of her window staring at her mother on the pavement. Amazing!!!!

    So many images: "ice chips glinting in black night", "...constant shimmer of screams" Very powerful!!!

  6. Yikes! Harrowing, powerful, like the other posters, your piece gave me a chill through the marrow!

  7. Harrowing depiction of domestic abuse from the title to the last gripping line! Hope she was able to keep her promise to herself!Even the Breeze

  8. Oh Heavens Pearl - harrowing indeed. The imagery astounds - very well written.

    Anna :o]

  9. This one hit me right where I live, kiddo. I was that child, lying trembling in bed, terrified when the screaming stopped - wondering which of them was dead, and whether I'd be left with the wrong one. You totally nailed this as only someone who has lived through it can. Whew. I am having to force myself to start breathing again.

  10. My heart is breaking for this child. Going to hug my children now and be grateful for my life.

  11. Intense, vivid, haunting poem, wow as previously said, I'm glad for my life.

  12. The previous comments have said it all. This is a powerful indictment of the beast in man. Just keep shouting "It is not OK".

  13. A heart wrenching story that chills me to the bone and fills me with indignation. I wouldn't have wanted to miss reading this but wished I never had to.

  14. Brr... Made me shiver. Great use of the words.

  15. OMG!

    It is beautifully written - I think I'll never forget the phrase' shimmer of screams' - and that makes it all the more horrifying.

  16. I found this terrifyingly wonderful!