das Gift

by Elouise


My family legacy
If not my inheritance
deposited in me a great Gift
The kind that kept on giving
Long after I drained the last drop
And tried to transform it
into a candlestick holder
now coated with hardened
layers of waxy tears
trickling down the
curve of my face

An iconic reminder of danger
in any hazard-prone area
It has no beauty
or fond associations
A brittle broken wick protrudes
from its charcoal-laden shell
of a burnt-out candle

Poison in every dripping drop
It seeps through my psyche
attacks body and soul
A grave sleeping danger
Wrapped in filthy rags
Passing through
To me


With thanks to the German language for this pliable, suggestive noun that means “poison”

Why this post? Yesterday I spent hours in a doctor’s office. To which I could add many other hours in the past dealing with health issues that sometimes are strange, given my lifestyle. This morning I woke up early, thinking about the connection between my responses to stressful situations and my learned or automatic survival responses to abusive behavior that began (but didn’t end) in my family of origin.

So this morning I did a little research on PTSD and health issues in survivors of child abuse. The research is still somewhat new. Some data is available, but it’s just the tip of the iceberg. The agony for me is that I’m here in this stage of my life, having dealt with several PTSD issues, and I’m still finding out more is going on in my body than I ever imagined possible. Some of this mimics my responses to stressful situations over which I had and have little direct control.

This waking realization threw me into sobbing grief. Not the helplessness I’ve felt in the past, but grief nonetheless. Then this poem came creeping into my awareness. Not full-blown! I worked on it a while. It accurately captures my sense, at age 72, of grief and loss for what I will never understand fully, or recover. 

The upside is that this emboldens me, especially at this age, to speak out frankly about the severe, lifelong cost of child and teenager abuse.

 © Elouise Renich Fraser, 29 December 2015
Photo from gogogretchen.com