Leaving My Abuser: My Adoptive Father

Cracked ice

The police are not coming.

My birth mother severely

punished, Holt Korea protects

my birth father still

and shames me,

“Your birth mother
never called

to ask about you.”

The women in my line

have put up with a lot, to

delay death. Being put on the curb.

Abandoned. Still punished,

a good girl has not
been pleasing, the spoils

are not worth having.

My adoptive father says I am a rock

so I become a quiet stone.

In a bad part of town—
my birth mother tells me:

“I had to get you out,

it wasn’t safe.” Mortal,

our time is brief, isn’t it?

I fight like a girl, meaning

I count on myself for my safety.

Too steep my path he cannot follow.

Finally, precious life,

I am not wasting myself.
I am not waiting.

 

Author’s Note: I wrote “Leaving my Abuser: My Adoptive Father” during a time when I was beginning to understand that being a good girl is based on a system that is, ultimately, set against girls and women.  Playing the role comes at too high of a price.  And yet, not playing the role can be terrifying and met with an inner resistance.  Charged with tension, in this poem, the desire to be free wins out.

Bo Schwabacher is a South Korean adoptee.  Her poetry has appeared in diode, Foundry, Hayden’s Ferry Review, Redivider, Tinderbox Poetry Journal, The Offing, and elsewhere.  Her book of poems is forthcoming with Tinderbox Editions.

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