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The Color Dread

by | Apr 1, 2024 | ACA And The Arts, ComLine

I was five years old. 
daddy-Monster told me to take out the trash. 
I remember the color dread. 
What if I did it wrong? 
Then daddy-Monster would explode. 
But he didn’t explode. 
I must have done it right. 

I remember catholic school, 
nuns with their long sticks, 
ready to whack my desk 
in front of my face 
if I showed a moment of inattention. 
I remember the color dread, 
walking to catholic school. 
One morning, I kept walking 
past the school. 
One morning, I walked the neighborhood, 
free from catholic abuse. 
Until my mother found me. 
Then more abuse from the nuns. 

I remember public school, 
bullies on the playground 
and in the classroom. 
I anticipated the final bell. 
Until I started walking home. 
I remember the color dread. 
Bullies at school, 
daddy-Monster at home. 

I remember the color dread. 
My parents would fight all the time, 
screaming and insulting and accusing. 
I remember them spitting on each other. 
I remember a knife attack. 

The color dread, 
grayer than ultra-gray – 
invisible to the eye, 
seen by the heart. 

I remember the color dread 
in my teenage years. 
Mom would come home from work 
and drink and drink and drink. 
She would rant on and on 
about how she hated men, 
about how she hated children. 
Of course, she married a violent man. 
And with three boys, 
we were too much for her. 
Too much energy, 
too much noise. 

I remember the color dread. 
Mom drove home drunk one night. 
I was in the passenger seat. 
She was in the wrong lane. 

I remember the color dread. 
daddy-Monster taught me how to drive. 
He wanted me to be far more aggressive. 
He exploded over any minor mistake. 

I remember the color dread, 
convinced my reckless brother 
would end up dead or in prison. 
He was constantly drinking 
and drugging and fighting. 
He started his short life of crime. 
He proved me right in a few years; 
he avoided prison 
by dying in a car wreck. 
He was eighteen years old. 

I remember the color dread in my twenties. 
I would come home to religious roommates. 
I wanted to stay in my car. 
I wanted to avoid their judgmental criticisms. 

I remember my first 12-step meeting. 
I remember the heavy door. 
I remember listening and learning 
week after week after week. 

I remember the color hope, 
a new color, 
faint at first, 
far away in the distance. 

I remember the steps, 
the serenity prayer, 
the encouraging support, 
the new friendships. 

I remember progress and growth, 
focusing on the next step forward. 
I remember the challenges 
and the courage to speak my truth. 

I see the color hope, 
a vibrant mix of new colors, 
invisible to my eyes, 
radiant to my heart. 

Healing Heart Warrior (Tom M)


Tom M.

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