Safe Words 

There’s a struggle around my throat

like an umbilical cord never cut free, 

the words don’t always help me breathe.

Sometimes they free me long enough 

to muster up a gasp that says, 

Yes, I am still here, but barely. 

But that’s not good enough. 

I’m digging down deep with the shovel 

in my heart, searching for the treasure 

of what’s hidden within me. 

The words that heal me.  

I keep finding the ones that hurt, 

the ones that were buried from the 

years of a past that keeps catching me. 

 I’m tired of running. 

So I’m turning around to see 

what the monsters look like 

and why they didn’t just stay 

 under my bed from so long ago. 

I’m still afraid of what their eyes look like 

and the way their hands keep reaching 

for the secrets I thought were safe. 

Now I am stripped raw and I don’t like it. 

Exposed from the vault I locked forever, 

someone found the key… 

 I’m turning back around. 

There’s a bandage in my safe words 

and sometimes it saves me 

for a little bit longer. 

-Stephanie Bennett-Henry © 2016

Safe Words

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