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