What She Told Her

She always knew the little dark-haired,
brown-eyed child was her mother’s secret.
She’d kept the outings in a stranger’s car,
ice creams at the airport and seaside trips
close to her chest, being only five or six,
and loving mystery. When the baby arrived,
nobody said a word. There were whispers
behind closed doors. The outings stopped.
The shouting started. She was often sent to bed.
Later, when her sister told her, it was not news.
The shared secret crumbled her childhood,
the beginning of the end of sisterhood.

Kim M. Russell, 21st January 2020

Image result for famous paintings of two little girls"
Two Little Girls’ by Egon Schiele (1911)

My response to dVerse Poets Pub Poetics: Shhhhh! Do you Want to Know a Secret?

This week our host for Poetics is Merril, who thinks of winter as being ‘secretive, with seeds and bulbs hidden underground, to somehow, almost magically, emerge once spring comes’, which is a thought I relate to, sitting in my study, watching nature through the window.

Merril also tells us about a book she read about secretaries who became spies in the Cold War. Last year I watched a great BBC series called ‘Mrs Wilson’, a true story, produced by and starring Ruth Wilson, in which she plays her real-life grandmother, a widow who uncovers a mysterious and secret life during that time following the death of her husband.

Today we are writing poems about secrets, or those who are often told secrets, such as spies, psychologists, priests–or friends. We can also respond to one of the Interesting Literature poems to which Merril has shared a link, or we can be tricky and hide secrets within our poems.

37 thoughts on “What She Told Her

  1. Yes, some secrets are never really secrets at all…..even to a child. Actually especially to a child who is very intuitive. A sad story, but very believable. Enjoyed the details from the child’s perspective.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. kaykuala

    The shared secret crumbled her childhood,
    the beginning of the end of sisterhood.

    Not uncommon to see how possessive and determined to exert her authority on a ‘sister’ who is not part of her and and her family.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. The happy child who loved mystery then sent to bed without a word, until the words crumbled the sisterhood…Uttering the words now feels so necessary. I sit here in this awed pause. This is true power. Thank you for sharing such deeply personal images.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I am so sorry for your pain, Kim.
    This line “The shouting started. She was often sent to bed.” resonates so much with me.
    As if, behind her bedroom door, the child cannot hear the angry yelling voices and will not feel the hurt and pain because she is in a different room. I remember standing in my bedroom, leaning against my bedroom door, facing the door, with my forehead against the door, screaming at my father “YELL BACK AT HER” – but in reality, those screams were only in my head and I was as silent as he was.
    Thinking of you, Kim. Wishing you healing and serenity.

    Liked by 1 person

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