The Child Within

by: Candace Nadine Breen

“I don’t love you anymore.”

she said to me one night.

That’s how it all began,

the phrase that sent

my ten-year old life

into a downward spiral.

Exiled from our home

one cold December twenty-sixth

my father, brother and I

sought residential refuge

in a rat and roach infested apartment

on the rough side of town.

The seductive dance

of my father’s cigarette smoke

sentenced our lungs

to respiratory complications,

for open windows were forbidden.

The awful memories

that continue to haunt me,

The room where it happened…

“God won’t forgive you.”

he said to me.

“I’m trying to teach you something.”

he told me after many nights

of creeping into my bedroom,

my cries silenced by his brutal slaps.

She did not come to rescue me

but she returned, instead, for my brother.

She knew I had been ruined

and she blamed me for their divorce.

Like a soldier on the frontline alone

I plunged into the world in secret

leaving everything behind.

College was my only way out of

the living hell that was my life.


“God, please, make the nightmares go away.”

I’d pray everyday.

What was it that kept

my steps going anyway?

I am the rose

that never blooms

its roots

destroyed by decay.

I am the little girl

trapped behind

the eyes of a woman.

And I, a woman

fear for the safety of my daughter

and greedily guard the love of my husband.

“God, please, make the nightmares go away.”

I continue to pray.

I can still feel his tongue

And his scratchy beard

Violating my virginal youth.

The awful memories

that continue to haunt me

As I hold my daughter close

Promising never to leave her,

never to hurt her

and to love her unconditionally.

What is it

that has replaced my smile?

“God, why won’t the nightmares go away?”

I ask in despair of the seemingly vacant air.

I am the rose

that never blooms,

the broken soul

in need of repair,

the eyes of a child

trapped in the body of a woman.

- 12/20/2008