When someone shows you who they are, believe them, the first time.
On our first anniversary:
“It takes ten years to make a woman,
a good wife.”
While drinking and playing cards
with my sister and her husband:
“I was drunk, the first time we had sex.
I don’t remember. She said she was
a virgin. I checked, there was no blood.
So, I can never know if she was, or not.
That just means, I can never really, truly
In our bedroom, with our children
in the next room, watching television:
Laughing out loud, “Rape? There can’t be
rape in a marriage. It isn’t possible. You
made promises to meet my needs, even
if it hurts a little. Besides, you were asking
for it, flaunting yourself, taunting
me in that skimpy dress.”
On our tenth anniversary:
“It takes twenty years to make a woman,
a good wife.”
When asked about our sex life,
by the marriage counselor:
“I don’t see why I have to give up
quantity, just so she can have some quality.”
(the counselor, a male, turned to me and said,
“Get the hell out, now.”)
With our four children, commanded to sit
on the floor in our living room:
“No one, none of you will leave
this room, until at least one of you,
agrees with me and says,
‘Your mother has never really
been here for you, never really
loved you, because she is selfish
to the core, incapable of loving
After I started writing poetry:
“It’s foolish of you to think you
can write anything worth reading.
I’m the one who has been working,
out in the world. You just don’t know,
can’t understand. You can’t say things
like that. I’ll help you choose the words
you can use.”
Shortly after I started college:
“You can’t go to school. You have to quit,
now! If you don’t, it will be the end
of this marriage.”
For the first time, he was absolutely right.
Elizabeth Crawford 11/9/2017
Posted to Micropoetry: November 2017
For Creativity Challenge Day 23: Freedom
Don’t know if you remember me, but I doubt I will ever forget you. You saved my life, gave me back the freedom to be me, when I felt totally alone in a swirling darkness, wanting only to curl myself into a trembling ball of fear and confusion. And I need to thank you for doing that.
That day, lost and alone in a howling wind of memories and feelings, I did something I have never done before. I dialed the number for the Sexual Assault Hotline, wondering about my own sanity in doing such a thing. I’m seventy years old and the sexual abuse is thirty years, and more, in the past. But, I’d been unknowingly triggered by the Billy Bush/Trump video and found myself unable to proceed in the manner that I had come to know as me.
I am a writer, putting a book of poetry together, finding myself completely incapable of creating a sentence that made even a minimum of sense. Writing has always been my preferred choice of therapy, and now suddenly, I could not even begin to think about doing it, without total confusion and insensibility over-riding any and all thought. To say I was desperate, doesn’t even come close.
I don’t really remember all that I babbled in your ear, but you were obviously listening intently. I think I told you some of my history: the uncle who molested me at age eight, the teen-age boy who stalked me only a few years later, the guy I babysat for, and the rape inside of my marriage. And between those bits and pieces, how writing was my means of getting through, making sense, and understanding my world. I’m fairly certain I told you much more than I intended to, because when I finely ran down, you calmly reminded me of who I really am.
What you said to me was a bit of a shock. I hadn’t realized how much I had told you in those moments while you listened. What you said, went something like this: “Elizabeth, you might not be able to write in this present moment, but you will write again. I don’t believe I know anyone who writes poetry and I’d like to read yours. I certainly don’t know anyone who has been involved in a Grammy Nomination because of a poem, she wrote. Nor, do I know anyone who taught others that same craft on a University level. Just keep breathing and you will write again. It is within you, what and who you are, and I know you will do it.”
And I calmed down, almost immediately. You gave me back the freedom that I so cherish. The freedom to speak my Truth, in my own fashion. The freedom to break the silence that others might force upon me, because they don’t want to hear that of which I speak.
Not only have I been able to write, but at the moment, am leading a Creativity Challenge online, for writers and artists, who together, are lifting their voices to soothe and heal the distress of this current election. And I can only thank you for releasing me from the paralysis of a past that is all too silently accepted by so many. But, far worse, by others who think that redefining reality by calling it locker room banter, is reason enough to elect a sexual predator to our highest seat of government.