Do I make you uncomfortable?
I watch you wince and squirm on the edge of your seat
as though you were being slowly turned inside out
by my words.
Do I make you feel ill at ease?
I watch you cast down your eyes
and nervously scour the floor for something else to focus on
as my voice cascades over you like a tidal wave.
Do I really repel you so?
I witness your frantic internal struggle
to pull yourself above the churning sea, gasping for air,
even as you sit still in that chair feigning a smile, pretending to listen,
yet all the while you’re ever so on edge as you hope and pray for a way out.
Do I make you want to hide?
I watch you as you cringe
at the images swirling in your head
and then shake your head furiously side to side, arms crossed
drawing attention to the wall you desperately build around you
as my words tear through like cannonballs,
compromising the hastily built structure meant to protect you from reality
so that all the bricks and mortar come crashing to the ground
in a grand clattering and banging mess spewing dust outward from the rubble
at breakneck speed.
Do I make you want to scream at me
as loud as your lungs will allow?
I watch as you sway side to side
between the porous white walls of your skull
and desperately try to silence me by talking over me
with your sighs and exasperated huffs in protest
of my story.
Just wait it out, the discomfort and shock,
just wait it out, because there is a gift at the end.
The gift of life,
the gift of hindsight,
the gift of someone else’s survival against the worst odds.
I paid a price for my freedom,
and you’re going to reap the benefits for free.
You want me to sweep it under the carpet,
to do the dance around elephant making itself at home
on your living room floor.
You want me to fall mute,
to stop speaking what you equate to nonsense and far-fetched thinking
so you can hole up in your abode of denial.
You want me to disappear,
to fade silently into the dust as it swirls in the sunlight pouring in the window
so you can stop wafting my courage away from your ears.
You misread my intent.
Erroneously you think I do this to taunt you,
to torture you, and make you shrivel away in disgust
at things you decry as exaggeration, as false, some as outright lies.
Why would you need to hear about something
you claim will never happen to you, not in a million years?
Why would you need to know something
you suppose you would be smart enough to avoid?
I do it so you don’t have to learn the lie we’re told as children about the monster
being make-believe is really the truth.
So that maybe you won’t find yourself
waking one day next to the devil,
to the monster in your bed.
They don’t hide in the closet,
they don’t lurk under the bed,
they don’t dwell in darkness and shadows.
They thrive in your silence,
your refusal to heed our warnings.
They live their duplicity and mete out their evil
right under your nose in broad daylight.
I keep sharing my wounds and my scars,
describing my nightmares and my fears,
my successes and my struggles and battles
so that maybe
you will never be dragged across a room by your hair
trying to dig your fingertips into the carpet
and get leverage to break free before you are stuffed into a corner
and struck with a metal bar.
So that maybe you will never have to know
what it’s like to have a gaping hole in your memory,
incessant, deep, unforgiving blackness
punctuated only by scuffling and intermittent screaming
and phantoms memories of you looking up at a monster
as you’re half-sprawled out on the cold pavement
on a wintry March night.
So that you won’t be tormented by night terrors of you
raising your hands above your head
as his right arm brings a tire iron down over you
before you black out and discover you have lost a piece of your life.
So that you never have to wonder or fear what befell you,
never able to quite grasp or regain what your brain has pitched into the fire of destruction.
So that uncertainty doesn’t follow you around everywhere you go
and you don’t have to wonder what happened to you,
just what did he – and didn’t he – do.
So that you’ll never have to bear the burden of a child –
your flesh and blood –
coming to you and showing you telltale marks
and detailing unspeakable suffering.
You see, I tell you not to cause you discomfort
or confusion, disbelief, shock, or denial.
I tell you out of love
as a warning
desperately hoping you’ll carry my words with you
and share them with others,
that you’ll spread them like feathers in the wind wherever you go.
I tell you because no one
should ever have to feel that pain because you turned a blind eye,
because you stopped up your ears and brushed me away
like I was just telling stories,
to hear myself talk.
Besides, if you leave the elephant to its own devices long enough,
at some point, you’re going to need a shovel.