copyright Erin Aurelia, 2019


Yes, you put a diamond on

            my finger,

Then spoke to me words

            soft as gold,

            cold as stone

Your lying love cut me deep

            like a backhand

            to the mouth

   laced with glass –

That diamond flayed my flesh

            one tiny cut at a time

            til it hung in ribbons               

                        about me

            and the tang of blood clung to me

                        as I walked

My blood.

            my blood

            falling out of me in a million

                        tiny rivers

            slaking your thirst

                        for iron –

            iron like the nails you spewed

            when you spoke to me last,

                        looking for bone

                                                to land

So I walked out into the black night,

            leaving bloody footprints

                        on your porch

            and that diamond in your dirt.

And as I stepped into the dark,

I was embraced by Stars that

            fell to meet me,

            to cloak me in diamond light

Shimmering like the northern aurora,

            blazing at my feet,

            and cutting me

                        an iridescent path

                                    to freedom

This is my story of marrying and divorcing an emotionally abusive man. The marriage lasted as long as it did because I didn’t understand what was happening. Had the abuse been overt, with name-calling, cursing, and hitting, I would have clearly perceived that to be abuse, as that was my concept of what abuse consisted of. This narcissistic abuse, however, was covert, subtle, inconsistent, and hence so very confusing. It wasn’t until I began to discover a lexicon of language for this, a universe defined by a certain vocabulary, that this reality began to exist for me in full relief. I learned about minimizing, stonewalling, gaslighting, managing down, and intermittent reinforcement. I took a class by the YWCA and learned that domestic violence is a language of many dialects, all designed to effect manipulation and control, and that indeed I had been a victim of it. Finally I had the lenses I needed to see my situation clearly and truly, and so I left.

Poetry is a form of storytelling, yet, unlike prose, poems begun are often followed to their revealed conclusion, rather than starting out with an idea of the shape of the story from beginning to end. I was intrigued by how this story unfolded for me as I wrote it, how the diamond that defined my marriage and imprisonment metamorphosed into the cosmic diamonds of stars, bright lights amid the night, which defiantly burn despite being surrounded by darkness, like a phoenix rising from the depths, that shone the way for me out of my own abyss. Poems are also journeys, I’ve learned, where the light is only shown for the next step or two, and must be walked before the next few may be revealed, and so traversed with faith that they will indeed materialize. This mirrors the journey I am taking in my life now that I am free, but uncertain where this road will lead me.