Burying the Ghosts of Trauma

As I have worked my way through the worst of my trauma – the debilitating, breath-stopping, function-sucking part – I have tried to buried my father’s ghost hundreds of times, with varying degrees of success. In retrospect, it amazes me how many times I buried him, and where I was in my journey each time his ghost reared its ugly head. Also amazing to me is the strength I gathered along the way, and the skills I developed to ward off full-blown flashbacks.

This poem is an early attempt at burial, and is from Part 2 of my book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing. It’s called “Six Feet Under.”

Six Feet Under

I hate what you did
vehemently
absolutely.
Were you amoral
immoral
out of your mind, your body?

I try to make sense of it
and cannot—
there is none to be made.
No answer to “why” or “how.”
You are long dead
(that part of you was buried still longer ago).

The silence that followed the act
before and after your death
buried it—
six feet under?
More like 50
in a lead-lined sarcophagus
preserved yet inaccessible.

We buried you when you died
cried
mourned
grieved
(celebrated)
and breathed.

Was it taken away?
Did you take it with you?
No…
exorcisms are not a Jewish ritual.

I hold this memory
that should never have been
that is so much a part of me.
It should not be
I have a child now
she is seven years old.

Does that age have meaning for you?
For me, it is a milestone.

She is a radiant child
full of life and joy
beautiful, brilliant.
She feels—profoundly
and shares her love.
She can trust
it is safe.
No boogeyman will harm her
no monster hovers over her
to take her childhood away.

I want my childhood back.
I want to feel joy
to be safe
to laugh without crying inside.
I want to be my daughter
to be loved as she is
without reserve.
Unconditionally.

May I bury you now
finally?
No lead-lined sarcophagus.
A plain pine box
let nature take its course
pain moving to dust,
ashes to hope.
Water a tree with my tears
and…finally…
move on.

About armsakimbobook

I'm a mother, a lawyer, a feminist, a writer, a potter, and an inveterate and unapologetic New Yorker. My book, Arms Akimbo: A Journey of Healing, tells of my journey of healing over a number of years, learning to live a full life after I was molested by my father at a very young age. I live in Medford, MA, part time with my 11 year-old daughter and full time with our dog, Toast, and our cats, Samson and Hercules.
This entry was posted in Grieving, Healing, Incest, Poems, Trauma, violation and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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