Guilty of Innocence
I had my share of guilt,
guilt for looking too many times in the mirror,
guilt for not being a better person,
guilt for the secrets I kept.
My head always pounded
as though God was seeing
into my sinful heart.
Behind the memories
the memories of tetherball,
cowboys and Indians,
games of ping pong
and the friendly squeak of the porch swing,
was something sinister,
something I couldn’t talk about
to anyone, not even God.
In my memory I can still see the house
and I can hear my grandmother
imitating the mocking bird’s call,
"Cheer-up, cheer-up", she’d call to the sky
and the walnut tree.
An enormous thing happened to me
in that house, behind the innocence
of lemon aid and cracking walnuts open
with the old nut-cracker,
so enormous that it cowered
in my memory
and refused to come out of hiding.
Its secret so enormous that
it paved every pathway I took
trying to avoid it.
The enormous thing
was grandfather’s visits
to that back bedroom,
that fore-poster bed,
late at night
when mocking birds are sleeping.
I had no words for
or knowledge about the things he did.
He touched me with his foul hands
and breathed on me breath
tainted by his own corruption.
So, at nine I would recite
The Lords Prayer each night.
I felt like I was walking
through "the valley of the shadow of death"
and I was very afraid of the evil
that I recognized there.
"Deliver me from evil," I prayed.
How could I be delivered from it?
I had come to believe
that the evil was me.
I have had much forgiving to do.
Like blowing leaves down the street,
my memories pass.
But, like a horror movie
about hell, I see the re-run
again and again as the wind circles
to pass it by me once more.
Each time the cracks
that were made in my heart bleed
and each time I understand more.
I can look directly in my mirror now.
There are no more secrets.
[This message has been edited by Martie (edited 04-20-2000).]