Ebb and Flow*

Woman splashing in water

Out of my crib tirelessly searching,

Out toward the fields, a young child’s throat, the marketable shuffle,

Out of my deviant devil’s dream,

Over the scenic sea and the surf and the sands, I search

Shirking the lion; I wandered through memory vulnerable and naked,

Down from harmful hoping,

Up toward helpless heaven to be thrust down again, seven years

Is all she had;

Out toward the making of new memories,

From what little memories I have of a happy childhood,

From your fearful memoirs, father, from the frightful “risings

And fallings” of temper,

From under the burden of your genetics and acts

And those who buy child’s flesh,

My eyes, heavy like the sad but luminous moon,

Laboriously peering through the vale of tumultuous evil,

From those just beginning to yearn and hope for love,

And those too shattered to know,

For those I lusted for but longed to love,

For those I loved but long lost,

From your too-painful-to-panic moments and day-to-day drudgery,

From your feelings of worthlessness and degradation,

To mine of uselessness and victimization,

To mine of non-acceptance and marginalization,

From the public denying of your existence

And the question of what is innocence,

I am a Lion, but through all this pain of wisdom, a crying child again,

I throw myself loose from the ever-encircling thirty-years of thoughts,

Toward a pen and public damnation to offer a reminiscence and to

Bring back your tongue—your voice—among so many voiceless.


Once in a town,

A seashore town, picturesque with the scent where fruitful flowers


Up the beach where the tide kisses the sand,

A girl of twelve years was walking;

The large orange sun was lapping at the sea

And peering at the girl with its blazing and un-bashful eyes;

And she loitered there between earth and water, maiden of sun,

Her suit transparent in its grasp,

And she, as if Venus visited from heaven,

Stood indifferent and unassuming

And she too young to be shameful and embarrassed,

By maturity and fear,

And every moment, “a curious boy, never too close, never

Disturbing” her,

Watching in awe, wonder and curiosity,

Until one day, all of a sudden,

No more maiden shown,

No more Venus walking the sun,

Nor any sand and water to kiss absent feet,

Nor any protection from the burning sun;

Will she ever appear again?


And from then onward he searched,

And calling and calling in his mind,

To the girl who walked the sun.

Over the voice of the sea,

And etched in his mind forever, she was no longer.


She was a girl then and now a memory;

She was taken from the sand and the sea,

From the heavenly sun,

No more goddess,

Not even the lady of the night,

Liberty, who greets all with her outstretched arm,

Sun in hand,

This is what it means to have liberty?


Once upon a night so dreary, while my thoughts were wild but weary,

Over many artful images’ peculiarity—

While my thoughts were imaginary, suddenly there was a knock, knock, knocking—

As if an entity was summoning at my mind’s door—

“What disturbance is this?” I thought, “knocking at my imagination’s door—

Is there anything more?”


Oh, I absolutely remember that it was in depressing November;

And each pre-December particle of starving light was dying and falling to the floor.

Desperately, I was ever seeking the sunlight and its warm greeting—

From my memory full of sadness, for the girl I lost ashore—

For the stunning child but womanly figure I adore—

Voiceless here forevermore.


And as my eyes set upon the room roving, I thought

I heard the curtains groaning by—was it a wisp of the wind?

Surprised and scared and senselessly stultified,

I sat back up to take a look—and feared if the dog hath risen again—

I opened my mouth but no voice would come out, just the lips to mime—

“Is this some entity who wants to approach my memory—

Something that must approach my…,

It is so and little more.”

The lion in me grew stronger and began to roar a little louder,

“You, whoever you are,” I was busy bothering no one when you came;

I implore you, that I was sulking with my coffee before you came,

Knock, knock, knocking at my imagination’s door,

But so lightly that I hardly thought I heard you”—here I spread open the curtains;


At first I saw nothing with my heart so fast a-beating,

But as I peered ever so closer she peered back at me,

Not with vacant eyes but with ones open in death,

So sudden they forgot to close;

Her throat was cut; the head was dead but the heart still pulsing—

Each jet of blood, through my window, came crashing on my memory’s door—

I stumbled back in God-going terror and must have hit the floor.

Mine opened again and denied still trembling,

“This is fantasy and nothing more.”


Then it came knock, knock, knocking—

I turned back with a lion’s new-found fear of running

And dashed toward where? I don’t know but away from terror I go.

“It must only be the wind, please, and nothing more.”

I sat down half fainted for a moment and tried to get restored.

“Could it be she at my imagination’s door?”


Somehow, the lion became the lion again—

Inching ever closer to the window—

My hands were shaking barely able to hold—

I flung back the curtain and roared—

“I looked for you for seven years but felt so much more,”

Crying now, not roaring, “Let this horrid memory be no more.”

I was met with my own reflection and nothing more.


“Demon or bird (said the boy’s soul)”

For moments or for years I wondered, “Was that for me or a message to others?”

Now should I live with that haunting forever,

Never more should I run toward carefree happiness.

Never more leave me with such a sad memory.

Never again leave me any peace, as peaceful as I was that night.


By the sea, one day, it was in November, when the saddened sun,

It suddenly had some veil or some cover, and I thought,

“Who is there? Could it be? And there she was smiling at me,

With her toes hugging the sand and the water bringing her to life again.

It was the brightest November ever, and I heard her say without saying it—

It was a whisper in the wind,

“If you hear me, gentle lion, my name is Liberty and I am forevermore;

Think about me but remember and protect me and nothing more.”


*This poem is a chapter in my book, and is a rewrite of Walt Whitman’s “Out of the Cradle Endlessly Rocking” and Edgar Allan Poe’s “The Raven” spliced together and  horrifically but, I hope, beautifully modified. The poem is dedicated to those of you that survived abuse, and to those that didn’t. 

Author: dropoutprofessor

A professor of English and Social Sciences that enjoys writing. Hope you enjoy my posts. All published work on this blog is my own. Pictures are used under license from Depositphotos.com or Shutterstock.com, unless otherwise noted.

2 thoughts on “Ebb and Flow*”

  1. This poem is a tragic grandeur cascading. I love the zeugma: “Not even the lady of the night, /

    Liberty, ” which ties into the shore theme where the girl walks, unabashed. Simply sadly lovely.


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