With Fear

With fear
Comes a pounding heart, begging to be set free from behind the sternum
Pacing feet, nausea asking the water filled belly to let it rise
You’re fine, just breathe, everything’s fine
With fear
Comes demons of doubt, insecurity, and guilt
Whispering into both ears: failure of a daughter and disappointment child
With fear
Comes a shifting body, unable to sit still,
shaky hands, picking at the unpainted finger nails
With fear
Comes blank stares and I can’t do this
Daydreaming about running, fleeing the home that’s housed you for fourteen years
With fear
Comes silent planning:
Purse is by the door, keys are in the purse, shoes already tied to your feet
Just in case the yelling begins, in case your father wants to remind you of your rightful place
Remind you of your childhood and mistakes
With fear
Comes anger,
and with anger
comes elephant tears
Stomping on the apples of the cheeks, falling from the jawline and plummeting through the floor
Only to be followed with another and another, that are silently wiped away
By the shaky hands
Of the girl
Who’s so afraid
That becoming a woman will leave her motherless—an orphan
Leave her with nothing but another severed relationship,
A disapproving family and an aching, shattered heart

Thankful at 10 pm

Tonight, overwhelmed with a recurring grief,
I turned to my love, climbed in his lap,
and wrapped my arms around his neck.
Tears rose but never fell, and I thanked him
for that day in the car two years ago,
when I told him about a night in April, earlier that year,
when a stranger some years older than me,
didn’t listen when I said “not tonight”,
didn’t listen when I said “I don’t feel like it”
didn’t listen when I said “no” the first time,
the third time, the fifth time, the last time
before he was done with me.

Tonight, I thanked my love
for holding me that day
as I erupted in tears in the drivers’ seat.
I thanked him for not asking questions,
for just listening and rocking me.
I thanked him for saying “it’s okay”,
for saying “I am here”,
for coming with me when I wanted to tell my family.
For holding my hands
while I looked my parents in the eyes
and told them I had been assaulted.

Thanked him for never assuming.
Thanked him for loving me.
Thanked him for being patient with me
over the next two years of our relationship,
when I couldn’t be touched
without shivering,
without remembering.
Thanked him for trying to understand.

Tonight, overwhelmed with grief,
I thanked the love of my life
for never seeing me as disposable.
Thanked him for never doubting me.
Thanked him for believing me.
Thanked him, because other women
have not been as lucky as me.

Some Things Momma Doesn’t Want to Hear

She is shattered glass
frantically glued
together, a broken window too
significant to replace. Her
soul is a damaged piece of
family history, repeated. Eyes
leak often, mostly at small
inconveniences or personal
mistakes. They don’t weep
at bumped heads, or stubbed
toes, or annual shots. The
pathway of thought dug
into her brain is too deep
to climb out of. Intrusive
self-destructions have severed away
therapy skills and repeated
positive affirmations. A body
so weathered that sunlight
only shines out of the cracks
and holes in her chest. A simple
word can send her into isolation
or self-destruction, another can
dress her in a hopeful suit
of armor. She is everything that
is fragile, worn out, everything
broken. Everything that is
relentless and fierce

Savannah Shepard

East Fork:

A Journal of the Arts​​