Woman Kept Captive for 24 Years

Woman Kept Captive for 24 Years
by Lauren Camp

Whatever they tell me on the news this time,
I will see three children raisined in the dark
between the basement and the old man. I will hear
the mother’s eyes lock down with each unwanted entry,
each night passing through a boundary
of shame, each night swallowing the same wrong
as her father splays the petals between her legs
with his body. Her eyes will shut hard,
closing over the black ruin of her flesh,
and her smile will leak hope. At 42, she is buried
beneath eight locks, hidden
from the sun, folding missing time like an answer
into years. The story repeated six times
this morning, and whatever attention I give it
feels as if I’ve rotted inside, as if the wild
pollen of my own love will pour out of my body,
dark and bitter, naked and ashamed. A basement!
such a silent haunted place to plant a family.
Home is never false, never clean. Her children
will perfect their childhood, bending
promises like broken birds into the landscape
of their small selves, washing
in the only invisible strip of untouched light.
The mother keeps unwrapping edges and listens
to herself get older. She is news
and I am innocent, stepping off the curb
into my life, and wavering.

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