Susanna J. Sturgis    

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Sunday Dinner

Another Poem about Terrorism
(for C.M.S.)

We come to the table with clean hands.
Our mother's hands are clean, she
has been in the kitchen cooking.
We stand behind our chairs until our mother sits
at her end of the table, opposite our father,
then we sit. I sit next to my mother.
We say grace. Bless, O Lord, this food to our use
and us to Thy loving service, for Christ's sake. Amen.
Our father's hands carve the roast.
Our mother's hands serve peas and potatoes.
Our hands pass the plates
and wait poised over knives and forks until
our mother takes the first bite.

My father is a sword thrower. I
am his apprentice. He has a keen eye.
A small dagger whistles past my mother's head and lodges
in the wall.
That will teach you to be wrong.
My father shows me how to place the blades just so
they quiver in the brick and leave no mark.
That will teach you to have any answer at all.
I sit next to my mother.
God always gets his way.
God never makes mistakes.
Don't move and you won't get hurt.

I am next to my mother.
The only safe place in the world is behind
the throwing arm of God.

I cover my ears without moving my hands.
The end of the table explodes
a crater at the end of the table.
We take no notice.
Water flows into the crater and sits
a deep deep pool of silent water
at the end of the table. I
sit next to the dark and take
no notice.

God is hurling His sword at the water.
Monsters lurk in the silent pool.

Published in Writing Our Way Out of the Dark: An Anthology by Child Abuse Survivors, ed. Elizabeth Claman (Eugene, Oregon: Queen of Swords Press, 1995).

 

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