A poem for trauma-anger

For anyone who has worked with teenagers with trauma histories, what sticks out for me is the pain that is anger, defensiveness, which lies just above a deep-seated craving to be loved and believed. I wrote this for the strength and healing that lies in anger, for the protection that lies in defensiveness and for the patience, sensitivity and determination it takes to get to the bottom of hurt. Since I work with sex trafficking, this poem speaks to that particular trauma, but I believe it can apply to what it can feel like to be a trauma-informed service provider for any number of children and any type of abuse. 

Healing

Sweet heart, you don’t scare me
recalcitrant, shoulder-folded
a tinderbox and feather-puffed
I hear you talk, every “I don’t give a fuck,”
you look for me. 
I see you. Quiver full and in your eyes,
you stand against me angry.
Spit, you torture it
across your words: you say
I couldn’t help you.
I watch you tender-shrug.
You are the fury
and you can stand against me.

Sweet heart, you don’t scare me
the trace of his murder on your thighs
a knife, a nail
I watch you break his hunger promises.
My tornado, sorrow is your room.
You tell me he is love sometimes
I am scared of the lessons
he traced on blackboards
of rooms he wouldn’t let you leave.
Fear is for the nights
he protected you.

Sweet heart, only silence scares me,
only the emptiness left
in the craters of girls,
the scar tissue that’s toughened you
taught you “worthless,” taught you “grave,”
the holes in places
you went to escape.
I’m not scared if you’re angry,
I want you to rage.
I admire your genius,
the defense in your eyes.
Recalcitrant, shoulder-folded
I say tinderbox, you say flame.
Stand against me,
tornado in a sorrow-filled room.
I asked to be a pathway
you said, my fury is the gate.

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