When you are only 3 or 4 the terror will render you frozen
Muted from the ability to cry out in fear,
From expressing the horror that would be likely to crush you.

The figure of a shadow could be seen heading down the hall
Its image would obscure the light from the passageway
That would otherwise reveal the source of the monster who would emerge imminently.

There is no way for a toddler to escape the ever present threat.
Without someone to offer protection, the little one is left alone.

From the street no one knows the details of the sustaining stretch of trauma
Endured within the unprotective walls.

The family is admired, the fettle of the children unquestioned,
A shining example of good neighbors.

The shift back to reality would render the child silently hysterical
From the threat to abandon her at the next turn.
This burden would carve out a cavern in the little one’s heart.

She must confine her protective solitude to the safety of her bedroom
Never speaking aloud or the shift of chaos would turn on her.

She can fantasize a rippling brook seeping through a field of alfalfa
Soothing swells coddling her to a state of security
No possibility of danger or love-less-ness
To remove her from the harsh truth.

But alas, an illusion is all it is
At any moment the brook can become a flash flood, tearing through a gorge
As it is bound to unavoidably head in her direction.
It will reach her, thrash her about, drown her.
There is no way to avoid the inevitable.
How can a child battle such power?

Once again the powers of evil are scoring another victory
That penetrates to the deepest organ in her body.

The scene would mystify anyone who has never been there.


Carol Stowe is a retired school teacher involved in jail and prison ministry. She is passionate about sharing the love and hope of Jesus Christ with those offenders whom society has thrown away and labeled worthless. She loves to see the light on their faces when they realize someone cares and will share God’s forgiveness with them.