She was a witness to the brutality

that her father inflicted upon her mother,

He would beat mama with his fists,

and when he tired of that, used a belt,

All the while shouting, “I’ll teach you a lesson!

Soup not hot! Meat not cooked properly!

What good are you?”

All the while mama cowered with her hands

trying to protect her head and face

so no one would know

she had a husband who beat her.

She was so ashamed.

And from corners or doorways,

the daughter witnessed all of it,

Fearfully, running to hide

Down in the cellar or up

in the attic, never breathing a word

of the family secret.

But then her mama disappeared–

One morning she just wasn’t there.

Did she run away? or did something

worse happen to her?

the daughter did not know.

When her mother had been missing

for a month, two men from the sheriff’s

office paid a visit to her father.

They asked where mama was

papa shrugged and cast his eyes sideways–

Unable to make eye contact with them.

Little girl” the deputy asked

Do you know what happened to your mother?

Did you witness something?”

and glancing towards her father, the little girl said

I didn’t see anything” and so the deputies left

to file a missing person report.

That day the father began to beat the daughter

When the soup she cooked wasn’t hot enough

or the meat was too tough.


Sandra Lee Smith

originally posted January 30, 2015; updated July 17, 2018





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