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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

Teachers

Mentors

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


Guilty.


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

Survivor

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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