Camp Street

My naive idealism was a thing of the times. I thought I could change the world, one juvenile life at a time, if only I was given the chance.

I had no previous experience, but I was welcomed with open arms, despite the reservations about my age and small stature. While I spoke about the difference I wanted to make in the lives of others, my dream to make it back to school to finish my psychology degree, and my new experiences as a mother, I could see the director glowing with my infectious enthusiasm. I poured out my plans, and he drank them up with delight as if they were an elixir that would make him a young dreamer once again.

A cloud was cast as he warned me about the potential hazards for a woman of my size to be employed at his place of business. At 5’1″ and 95 pounds, I did not have a lot of force behind me to defend myself if I were to find myself in a…difficult situation. I did not heed his warning at the time, being caught up in my idealism and all, though I should have.

I got the job.

For three months to the day I worked all the shifts I possibly could. I feared work and craved it. I wanted to be there, I wanted to learn, I wanted to help… But I walked through the door each day, terrified of the potential for disaster that was always lurking overhead.

I was trusted with the lives of damaged goods that just needed someone to care. I felt I had found my calling at last.

I was troubled and fascinated by each girl’s tale about how they had wound up in such a place. I found each of them interesting and dark and demented… All of the things I saw in myself but had somehow repressed just enough to remain undetected. I wanted to understand them – to understand myself.

After three months to the day I had to put all of my training to the test.

The young girl, half my age but larger than I, could not repress herself as I had always done. She acted on every rage that had ever stirred in her abused body and sought out to inflict pain on anyone that stood in her way.

I was in her way.

I had never known such terror in all of my twenty-something years. I had never had my hair ripped out of my head in such sizable clumps. I had never been pushed or pulled like a rag doll from one room to the next, all the while trying to free the grasp from my hair and defend my scalp from being bitten.

I had never known I could scream like that.

I had never known that a child, so full of anguish brought on by others that should have cared, could also cause so much pain and destruction.

Three months to the day from when I met the girls, I spent my last day with them – my first Mother’s Day.

Once in awhile I find myself driving down Camp Street… I hold my breath as my eyes well up with the stale emotions I can no longer express. I can still look through the eyes of that moment, and I am washed over by the words and sights and smells of the place I had thought was a new home to me…


The Wounded

While walking alone
Amongst the bare trees
With dried tears
Upon my cheeks,
The frigid air burning my
Throat and lungs,
I meandered through
The quiet community.

I looked for nothing
Yet found so much
In the vulnerable forest.

Near a stream stood
The tallest, most Awe-inspiring
I had ever seen.

I peered up to the top
Of the Grand Old Tree,
Standing strong against the
Bitter winds
And the gray winter sky.

My eyes scanned the height of the tree
From top to bottom.

When I stared
Straight ahead I saw
The markings
Of thoughtless

Hearts and Declarations
Of Love
Littered the trunk
Of the Majestic Being.

I placed my hands
Upon the deep wounds
And transferred
All the healing thoughts
I could muster
Through my cold fingertips.

“I feel your pain as if
It were my own…”

How could such a
Beautiful Creature
Be harmed in such a way?

I laid my my cheek upon
The source of the tree’s
And tried to absorb its

I admired how it wore
Its wounds, its pain, its vulnerability
And yet did not seem
At all phased by them.

I detested the lack
Of benevolence and respect
In this World.

I stood with the tree
Until the stars came out
And my body was numb
With the cold.

I could feel nothing
Of my physical self
Except my Aching Heart.

Tenderly, I wrapped and bandaged
Its wounds with
The gray woolen scarf
From around my neck.

I bid my companion a sorrowful farewell
And I promised to return
To the place that felt
Like Home.

Stepping away,
I looked back
For one last look at
The Being I had felt closer to
Than any other.


With her paring knife in hand, she set to work.

Alone in the bathroom she shared with her older sister, she expressed her pain in ribbons of deep red running down her arms and dripping onto the tiled floor.

Her writing on paper and painting on canvas helped ease the torment in their dark expressionism – but it was never enough.

She always felt the need to combine the two art forms into one…

To create a permanent masterpiece upon her own body.

She had not felt complete relief in so long… She had become convinced that it would never come.

There was no way to provide her with a different childhood, a different life.

So, she took matters into her own hands.

In secret, she published the pain – relishing the indelible impression it would make.

There was so much to say…

Yet so little space with which to tell her story.