Poetry by Donal Mahoney: “Woman in the Day Room Crying”

Reiter’s Block contributor Donal Mahoney describes the inspiration for this poem as follows: “Fresh out graduate school in English in 1962, I had a pregnant wife and couldn’t find a job. At that time, a degree in anything qualified a person to be a caseworker in Chicago. Seeing hundreds of clients, one sometimes suspected child abuse in the adult the child had become. PTSD isn’t the product of war alone.”

Woman in the Day Room Crying

Lightning bolts in childhood
can scar the soul forever.
They’re a satanic baptism
when the minister’s your father,
mother, brother, sister,
anyone taller, screaming,
shooting flames from the sky
all day, all night.

The years go by
but the scars remain.
The pale moonlight of age
makes them easier to see
and scratch until they burst
and bleed again,
another reason I wake up
at night screaming.

When the daylight comes,
I talk about the scars
when no one is around
to say shut up!
I draw the details in a mural
on the walls and ceilings so
everyone can see the storms
that never left a rainbow.

One comment on “Poetry by Donal Mahoney: “Woman in the Day Room Crying”

  1. Hank Rodgers says:

    The “pale moonlight of age” does, indeed make it easier to see; however, for most I suspect, there seems no necessity, to “scratch and bleed again”. Good poem, and subject; and I’m sure it is both the degree of the original trauma, and the sensitivity of the subject that makes the difference. We stayed around the edges of the campfire, however cold, in order that the irritated, and hungry, “old man” did not kill and eat us. We learned from that too…

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