who would whip into submission?


in my dreams and after the fact of
my six year old self
running in circles around my father
holding my right hand with his left
left hand switching blow after blow
on my growing welted legs
deathly afraid i couldn’t make a sound
mind was going lickety-split praying
for help and in my head i heard
“he will stop when you scream”
i screamed
he stopped
and i wonder and i wonder
if i could have allowed my body to completely collapse
and would he pick me up and cry
then could i hug him for the first and only time
in those hard days of depression
when he built his own house
with a loan from a bank then
lost his job
lost his house in which had lived
a mother, a father and three little girls
and me on the way, or at least, next…
his hard labor WPA considered charity
mother felt the shame of the better-off

next chapter
earning a living day time
building a house night time
7 acres
eventually electricity
always an outhouse

last chapter
and the blessings keep coming
even in my sleep-dream
a male was in charge
of several men and women
and when he ordered me to do something
he had no right to demand
i refused and sat on the floor
he had a leather whip in his hand
which he whipped and whipped
but did not touch
we both knew the rule
“no corporal punishment”
it was not pleasure, but satisfaction i knew
looking into his eyes and seeing frustration
looking at his curved mouth
with dogged determination
he knew signified nothing.

thanks and praises
mother and father
who art in Heaven
your strength
followed me thru the valley
to near the end of this path
where the dear and dearer play
where never is heard
a discouraging word
and smiles
the dress of the day.