I dreamed of escape routes,
of emergency exits
and fiery deaths,
so that maybe someday
I wouldn’t have to come back to this place.
I wished on the first stars that came out at night:
star light, star bright,
anything I see tonight,
I wish I may, wish I might,
disappear before he shows up for visitation tonight.
But he would come
and we would pile into a truck,
arguing about who got to sit in back
because it was the furthest seat away.
Our kisses would be stolen,
souls leaving our chests a little more each time,
teaching three young girls that their bodies
are not theirs,
and that when a man demands to be hugged,
to be kissed,
you comply or you get hurt.
Forced words of affirmation fell from our lips:
I love you,
I miss you,
Please stop wrapping your arms around me
because it feels like granite, sandpaper, and I can’t breathe.
We would tick by hours,
the safest ones when you were at the bar,
but then the truck would pull in
and we couldn’t run far.
And so I learned,
far younger than I should have,
that wishes on stars fall flat,
because even after we finally escaped,
the nightmares return and take their place.
In honor of PTSD Awareness day of June 27, this selection comes from the book, On Becoming a Role Model, available from Thirty West Publishing. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Ada Rivera.
Lynne Schmidt is a mental health professional and an award winning poet and memoir author. She is the author of the poetry chapbooks, Gravity (Nightingale and Sparrow Press), and On Becoming a Role Model (Thirty West). Her work has received the Maine Nonfiction Award, Editor’s Choice Award, and was a 2018 and 2019 PNWA finalist for memoir and poetry respectively. Lynne was a five time 2019 Best of the Net Nominee, and has received honorable mention for the Charles Bukowski Poetry Award, the Doug Draime Prize for Poetry, and Joy of the Pen. In 2012 she started the project, AbortionChat, which aims to lessen the stigma around abortion. When given the choice, Lynne prefers the company of her three dogs and one cat to humans.
Nilsa Ada Rivera writes about gender and diversity issues. She’s the Managing Editor of The Wardrobe for Sundress Publications. She’s an MFA candidate at Vermont College of Fine Arts. Her work appeared in the Huffington Post, 50 GS Magazine, Six Hens Literary Journal, Assay: A Journal of Nonfiction Studies, and Selkie Literary Magazine. She lives in Riverview, Florida with her multi-species family.