Poems from ‘the Dark Days’
Peter wrote the following two poems with his Speech Pathologist shortly after he left a care facility in 2002 where he says he was physically, sexually and emotionally abused.
Peter needed to talk a great deal about his traumatic experiences and could not always speak to his parents because it was too upsetting for them.
During one of these sessions Peter told his speech pathologist that living in that particular facility had been “like living in a freezer and nobody came to lift the lid and let in the warm air”.
At the time of writing these poems a psychologist was treating Peter for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.
No one to Protect Me
No one to protect me when things are bad.
No one to say I am good, when I know I am bad.
No one to thank me and no one to hug me
and no one to turn to and nothing to do.
Wherever I go, when everyone has gone and I am still here,
Where will my handholding be?
When nothing is good, when will they help me, ’til all is O.K?
Get me a body that talks like you.
Get me a body that smiles only when things are good.
Get me a hand that writes and captures the mood.
Get me a voice that shouts when sad.
In the Long Days (2002)
In the long days of no hope, with the pain to help,
In the long days of no joy, he came to confuse.
In the long days of silence, he came to bellow.
In the long days of not talking, he came to push.
In the long days of no hope, he came to hit.
In the long days of my hurt, he came to laugh.
In the long days of my happiness, he is still there.
Explanation: The first stanza in the first poem “… when everyone has gone and I’m still here, where will my handholding be?” refers to Peter’s Facilitated Communication, which requires the support of his hand by another person. For punishment in this particular facility, the only person who had been trained to facilitate for Peter would withhold his support, so for weeks on end Peter was unable to communicate a single word. Communication, by this method, is as necessary to Peter’s well being as a good meal. As he wrote, in a later poem, his need to communicate is “like air for the birds”.
The second poem speaks of his tremendous fear of the men who had (allegedly) abused and then threatened him. The last line refers to his happiness at being home again, but the fear remains.