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My tiny grade school library housed a number of books on “Houdini.” “The master of escape.” 
Who ordered these? Why these books? 

Geared to a 3rd, 4th, maybe 5th grade reader. I read them all.
Did anyone notice I was reading THESE? Why THESE, someone might ask.

Houdini, wrapped in chains, fastened with keyed padlocks, 
in a cage made of welded metal bars, and submerged underwater.
Could he escape before he died? A performance he came through, breathing again,
and replicating, time and time again.

Why was this little girl interested in Houdini books? 
These tormenting, gruesome, nightmarish escapes? 
These chilling, gut-wrenching, appalling escapes?
Incessantly repeated, over and over. Why? 

I needed hope about escaping unfathomable circumstances.
An environmental predicament that I as a child could not escape. 
That I as a child could not label. That was, “Life as Usual.” Normalized.

My terror buttons were squeezed by the books. 
But they could not begin to heal until much later.
After a long-term marriage, a divorce that took 12 years, finding program, 
a move out of state. 

The years necessary, to learn enough, 
to grow into feeling secure enough, to traverse my way,
like traveling across the Sahara desert, the Arabian desert, 
and the Kalahari desert,
to find my way, 
back into my own skin.

Lena L

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