“I was the Child”


My beautiful picture

taken by my phone to the East

Real Toads in Imaginary Gardens is prompting with an interesting challenge:  your own death. Strange but not so strange.

Lady Nyo

I was the Child


I was the duckling held under the water

Drowned for the convenience of casual hate.

Eaten by snapping turtles, dissolved in the mud.


I was the child thrown out of the sleigh

A deal with the wolves

To save you and your children

To satisfy yearning to feed on flesh.

I saw the relief on my brother’s faces

Who survived this sacrifice

But to wonder when their turn

To be pitched in the snow.



I was the baby,

Head  misshapen

By forcepts,

A monster even a mother couldn’t  love

And  when the nuns wrapped me in

Starched cocoon   left–

You pulled the corner down over my face

Pushed me to the back of the bed

And wondered how  ugly could be

Born of your womb.


From that day I half- died,

As I came to know my place

In the shadows.


From that day

I half-lived

To know corners

To know shadows

To know the sting of insults

And to dance to your stinging hands.


I didn’t live long

As neighbors expected

A child hanging from the rafters

So I fled into the ether

Where I was not missed

Barely remembered,

And not found.


Jane Kohut-Bartels

Copyrighted, 2017

Tags: , , ,

19 Responses to ““I was the Child””

  1. kanzensakura Says:

    This is so very sad Jane. “I was the duckling…”. This is heartbreaking that some parents actually their own child.


  2. ladynyo Says:

    First, thank you, Toni. This was a challenge, but then again, sadness seems to linger. And parents do kill their children. Here in Atlanta, it’s pretty common. Last week a mother (here illegally from Mexico) killed her husband and 4 of her 5 children, including her 9 month old baby. She acted the fool in court, giving the thumbs up, and bowing on the floor, smiling all the time. It was shocking. The nine year old daughter survived…barely. But many, especially middle class parents kill their children psychologically. Either their expectations are not met (by the child) or the child is marginalized for various reasons.
    Retardation, Asperger’s, etc. And some are just pure mean and evil as parents.
    Real Toads is a great site and does challenge to expand in poetry. thanks again.


  3. Brendan Says:

    A song — a dirge, really — for every abandoned and sacrificed and forgotten lost child. Perhaps there’s a pair of empty little shoes in all of our hearts, for innocence which was truly lost. Lots of those ducklings grew up to be poets.


  4. kanzensakura Says:

    You are welcome. Yes, Toads is an extraordinary site with extraordinary prompts. At dVerse we are more homey. And a few weeks ago, a man shot at close range, his wife, newborn, and 4 year old son. Mercifully, he also turned the gun on himself. Lower class and upper class parents “kill” their children psychologically as well. Interesting point: Years ago I worked with a young man with Asperger’s. He had a loving and supportive family and he lived in a tiny apartment by himself. He was in charge of the file room and did an incredible job keeping 10s of thousands of files straight, organized, checked in and out…I became friends with him and we still are today. He was a sweet kid and only talked to three of us at the Agency.


  5. ladynyo Says:

    You are right. It is upper and lower class parents that do the psychological abuse. I do like the challenge here….it’s sharp, and I do know some of the poets here from years past. I am glad to see them again.
    Your friend deserves the support and friendship of people like you, Toni. We are just beginning to see Asperger’s in a close relative. It can be frustrating.


  6. ladynyo Says:

    you are right. It seems that childhood abuse and neglect, in different forms is the universal plight of humankind. And yes, I can think of some ducklings, like Elizabeth Bishop and Marianne Moore who had some of their own issues….and what marvelous poets they became!


  7. Sherry Blue sky Says:

    Powerful, heartbreaking, and achingly true…..the damage done to innocents by damaged parents.


  8. kanzensakura Says:

    Yes it can be. I think that is why when James was able, he moved out of his parents’ home.


  9. ladynyo Says:

    And the beat goes on…. It’s hard not to become like them. It takes self control that ususally isn’t learned early but much later. The damage lasts a lifetime. You don’t get over it. It is carried to the grave.


  10. coalblack Says:

    Wow. This is unsparing, cruel, blunt, and right on the money.


  11. coalblack Says:

    ps–this is Fireblossom in my Word Press clothes.


  12. Nick Says:

    A dark and disturbing poem of childhood trauma. It is necessary sometimes to express such darkness, to exorcise the demons, but please don’t dwell in this place too long. The light is better for your soul 🙂


  13. ladynyo Says:

    LOL….yes, the light is much better for the soul. I was surprised by this challenge but it’s just a challenge, Nick. And life is so much better!


  14. ladynyo Says:

    Thank you, Coalblack. Don’t want to do this too often.


  15. Bodhirose Says:

    This just stung me to the core because I recognized your truth in it.


  16. ladynyo Says:

    I was hoping you, of all poets, would read it. You would understand, Gayle. Others might just think this fantasy. That phrase “hanging from the rafters” was said by the woman, Sophie Bischoff, so many decades ago, when she helped me escape from home. Packing my violin, my Betsy-Wetsy doll and a few cloths and she drove me into Princeton. It was many years later she explained ‘why’ she had done this…and it has haunted me forever. Adults stand by and watch or ignore the abuse of children mostly then….but she didn’t. She’s dead now, but she did live long enough to see that I had become a poet. Thank you, Gayle. LIfe is a lot more traumatic than poetry ever can be. Poetry is a veiled reflection of trauma, but of course, we cover the sting.


  17. ladynyo Says:

    Hello, Fireblossom!


  18. Bodhirose Says:

    Well, I just wish I could give you a long, tight hug, Jane. To be told that she thought they would find you hanging from the rafters…well, it just must have shocked the breath out of you. Bless her and you both. What we convey through our poetry is a tiny sliver of what we’ve lived through. Your poem illustrated one, devastating sliver. xo


  19. ladynyo Says:

    thank you, Gayle. We write,when we have the courage to do so, what we have lived through. And I don’t think that I was even shocked at the time…I was 19 and the chaos at home was Hell on Earth. Both parents. But I certainly remembered my neighbor saying this. Thank you, Gayle. What disgusts me most is that flocks of adults, family and neighbors knew the abuse but they didn’t want to get invovled to save the children. And they didn’t except this one time.


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