Elizabeth Oakes, Ph.D.
Solace: Readings For Transforming Childhood Trauma
Sample Poems

The Past #4 - Night Stories

The Day grew small, surrounded tight
By early, stooping Night -
(Emily Dickinson, Poem #1140)

What day there was was gone.
I didn't know why. I didn't
know why night was coming
at me. I didn't know the dark
would always scare me.

I wouldn't know why part
of me left that day, why my
memory became an unsteady
thing, a thing I had to control.

Night swooped in and took
part of me, and I wandered
in it, trying to find the light
that could illuminate the stories
they told me, that
I told myself,

all instead of the one story
no one was telling.

Survival #12 - MIA

A day came when
I realized I was
lucky to survive, that
I was in a war, was
wounded, and no medic
came, no helicopter. No
one gave me a medal.

I was the walking
wounded. I never became
part of my own history.
It was a forgotten war.

A part of me was lost, part
of my life energy. Others
would perceive something
missing in me but not know
what it was. I floated alone
in the universe, and the
universe was a battlefield.

I was a prisoner of war
somewhere lost. MIA.

Note the verb tenses:
I was, not I am.

Recovery #31 - The Long Distance Runner

I wasn't a coward.
I had no power, none at all.

I wasn't lying to myself.
I was surviving.

There is no way to have
been then who I am now.
This was a long journey.

I sometimes wonder how I
could have forgotten, but the
wanderer over the desert
thinks only of water.

I need to be who I am
now, to forget the past,
to lay it away somewhere.

It was a blip on my screen.
I direct my life.

I was running,
and the long distance runner
looks ahead to the horizon.

I am the long distance runner.

Transformation #40 - Power For

Think of this:
We took something negative
and by living
and by being who we are
and by being one of the broken
but never the lost,
we have remade the world
in our own way.

We are the ones with real power.
It is not power over.
It is not even power to.
It is power for -

for the good,
for transformation,
for healing,
for transcendence,
for caring,
for doing what we
can for those who are
as we once were.

Others can follow our path.
We are truly part of the human
family. We are the strong ones.

We always were.

We are one of many,
and the many are strong.