Screams from Childhood - Walls

Biography Barbara Rogers
Foreword: A Hero Child
Chapter 1
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it’s all over

his letters are my most precious possession—I hide them
carefully—way back in a long and narrow drawer of my desk
I read them secretly—I know I have to hide this love

but one day I come home from school
to find Jan’s letters lying where they do not belong
on my nightstand next to my bed
anxiety rushes into my cells and floods my body
irrational hope calms me—maybe our cleaning lady found them

then my mother asks me to come to her room
she wants to talk to me—now I know who found the letters

I can barely walk as I enter her room
my legs feel heavy like lead—as if they cannot carry me in there
the old, well-known terror seizes me—my blood freezes
I feel paralyzed and as if I am about to faint

I leave my mind and my Self outside her door
—as I left them outside the ship cabin too—
the tin soldier enters and deals with this problem
I forgot her lecture but remember
that I had to write Jan a letter to tell him
that “it” was all over—I wrote the letter the same day

that Christmas my father gave me a book
it was a play about the trial against a man named Oppenheimer
called the “father of the atomic bomb,” which he helped develop
my father had written a quote in the front of the book
these days we scientists have stepped to the edge of an abyss
we have discovered sin

I gather all the courage I have and walk up to my father to ask
why did you write this?—his answer is—you know
I gather even more courage and dare to ask again
why did you write this?
this time he says—what you experienced this summer is sin
I walk away silently—yet in his eyes
I saw a strangely different attitude—one of joy and excitement
that I then read as approval

never was another word spoken about Jan
between my parents and me—what did they imagine happened
between a fourteen-year-old teenager
and a twenty-eight-year-old man
during the two short weeks I spent on the island that summer?

he kissed me a few times and hugged me
held me in his arms—is that a sin?

a year later, back at the beach, I meet Jan again
he asks me—out of sight, out of mind?
my mouth is sealed—I cannot tell him what happened
I am programmed to such loyalty that I must betray
the most loving, alive, joyful relationship I have known

I see him again when I am engaged
he wonders why I marry so young
"you have so much talent—what a shame if you don’t develop it"

once more we meet years later on the island
he invites me to his parents’ new home in the dunes
he is divorced and has a young son
he is surprised that I love life in the United States

how happy I have been when we meet in my dreams

© Barbara Rogers

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Screams from Childhood