She sleeps in a tree, the tallest tree
she can find in this dark forest.
Here she feels safe, this place
where she no longer has to smile
and pretend the last three years never happened,
years of chronic trauma caused
by four men, narcissists, who abandoned her
as collateral damage.
How did it feel? Like terrorists
had blown up her life. No time
to grieve. No time to heal.
Too much to do. Too much to clean up.
Yet none of those men apologized.
And one had the nerve to say,
I’m sorry about what I did to you,
but you’re strong. I knew
you’d land on your feet.
Was that the best he could do?
Well, at least now she knew
narcissists are just terrorists in disguise.
I couldn’t tell anyone, she whispered
to the tree. There was no time.
I had to repair the damage. Be strong.
No one knew what had happened.
What it did to me. What they did to me.
No one knew. I should have told someone.
But I didn’t.
Now she spends her nights with a tree.
Two kindred spirits.
Its branches lifted high. Her arms raised.
Both of them reaching for the sky,
as if they might drown. But only
one of them knows
Before her life blew sky-high
she had goals, dreams, hope, and a future.
A bright one. Her future.
But that was before four men
entered her world with their drama, mistakes,
destruction, and left her behind
to fix the damage.
In the midst of this, her future vanished.
It’s not that the future looked bleak.
It just wasn’t there anymore.
She couldn’t see it. No dreams,
no goals, no hope. No future.
All that remained was a vast blank
space that used to be called FUTURE.
Every day she felt herself slipping, sinking,
deeper into that void. Its emptiness plagued her.
Its hopelessness. It haunted her.
And it hurt.
More than she ever imagined.
Where is the woman who eagerly achieved
her goals, chased her dreams, hoped
in a sunny future?
She vanished, too. Gone.
Go back to before.
Before those men. Before their damage.
Go back! Look at the future before.
What nourished her hope? Before, before.
What were her goals? What were her dreams?
Pursue them again. Go back!
What were the things that gave her joy before?
Do them again. And again.
Go back! Go back to before. The future
waits. To begin, to begin.
Maybe then they can be friends again.
BIO: Laura Stamps is a poet and the author of several chapbooks, including IN THE GARDEN and TUNING OUT. Her poetry book THE YEAR OF THE CAT was nominated for the Pulitzer Prize (2005). She is also the recipient of seven Pushcart Prize nominations. Currently, Laura is working on a new chapbook of poems about PTSD and chronic trauma. You can find her www.laurastampspoetry.blogspot.com & on Twitter at @LauraStamps16.
Robin Ouzman Hislop is Editor of Poetry Life and Times at Artvilla.com ; You may visit Aquillrelle.com/Author Robin Ouzman Hislop about author & https://poetrylifeandtimes.com See Robin performing his work Performance (University of Leeds)