A Haibun: What Lies Beneath

Today at Poets United, Susan is asking to write to the theme of Survival – violence against women, those who survived and those who didn’t.  I am linking there today and will link to d’Verse Poets for their Open Link Night Thursday.  For Poets United, here is the link:  http://poetryblogroll.blogspot.com/2015/11/poets-united-midweek-motif-survival.html

What Lies Beneath
A quiet neighborhood – tall oaks and magnolia trees, friendly lawns, old houses surrounded by box, old roses, gardenia bushes, children out playing after dark – hide and seek, capturing fireflies to put into lidded jars – holes punched in the lids with blades of grass inside – to set by bedsides to blink blink blink until morning when the jar was opened and the fireflies returned to their homes in the grass or bushes. Across the street from us, a Greek family who owned a small restaurant, next door to us a professor of World Literature at Duke, on the other side, a lawyer and his family, a daughter my age – and so on up and down the block. Respectable hard-working, church/synagogue/mass going people. Well behaved children who studied hard and played harder. Doors were never locked. My best friend, Terri, was the eldest daughter of the lawyer and we were together from after breakfast until supper time. My next best friend, Effie, daughter of restaurant owner completed the trio. From toddlers to tweens – through thick and thin.

When we started middle school, Terri grew distant. She told Effie and me she couldn’t play with us anymore that she was grown up now and needed to study for university. She came home from school and went into her house. She came out the next day and got into her father’s car and was taken to school, no longer walking with us. We had suddenly lost our friend. We’d go to the kitchen door and knock. Sometimes her mother but more often, her father told us Terri could not play. She had to study. We knew something was wrong with the sure certainty of children but we could do nothing. Slowly Terri dropped out of our lives. We saw her in passing or in the halls at school. From plump and amiable to thin and tense. She had the eyes of an animal caught in a trap but was too afraid to chew off her leg to escape the trap. When it was time, she went to university, at Duke, a few blocks away. I went away to university and she passed out of my life. A few months before I graduated, I received a letter from Terri. Simply put she said, “I am sorry. I was always your friend. Please forgive me. “ I returned home after graduation. My mother told me Terri had committed suicide. She had left a letter in the mailbox of their priest. Her father had been using her and her ten year old sister as sex slaves. He had threatened them with death and worse if they did not do as he wished. Her mother went along with it because she was so fearful herself. Who knew such a stolid, amiable, respected man was a monster? If houses could speak, they would scream in the night from the nightmares within.

Weeping for a friend
Who loved firefly nightlights – hate
For the man who stole them.

free public domain image


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