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House of Shame by Anna Smith

by Anna Smith

House of Shame

A letter to my body:

For years you’ve played protector

Shielded me from a truth

that our twelve-year-old brain

couldn’t comprehend

For years you held the memories

Bore the marks

of callused hands clamped over our mouth

Words trapped in our throat

Hot breath in our ears

The grip of a grown man’s hands on our

Twelve-year-old wrists

For years he forced you to become

a House of Shame and Secrecy

No one will believe you

You deserved this

And for years, I’m sorry to say

Even I didn’t believe you

And so we spiraled

So full of words

No space for food

We withered away

Made lines on our wrists

To bleed out the diseased

Not even realizing

The secrecy was the disease

So we stopped swallowing secrets

Learned to speak truth

Whispered words

To family



And Friends

Surrendered them to the police

Gently placing the truth

In their open hands

Wondering - will they believe me?

And they did

And the district attorney did

And the grand jury did

And at the age of thirty-two

We took our place at the witness stand

Pried his invisible grip from our wrists

Looked him in the eye

And spat truth in his direction

And the jury said


The jury said guilty?

The jury said guilty.

And the jury said Guilty

Twelve times

Twelve times

For twelve years

Dear Body,

You are no longer a house of shame

You are no longer a sack of bones

You are not a vessel of abuse

At his hands or your own

You are a temple of truth

You are victim


One and the same

And so much more

Truth was the white flag

That ended the war between you and me

And now, we walk hand in hand

Healing as one

With Love,

Your Brain


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