Rising from my Nightmares

Thank you Karen Davis of Open Door Dreaming for her beautiful photography.

Out of the huts of history’s shame
I rise
Up from a past that’s rooted in pain
I rise
I’m a black ocean, leaping and wide,
Welling and swelling I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear
I rise
Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear
I rise

Maya Angelou, “Still I Rise”

Familiar women are in a kitchen
Making apple and grape jellies
My grandmother is among them
Then instantly she vanishes: dead, departed, no longer

In my thoughts, in the dream,
I know I am supposed to be sad
That she is gone
I am supposed to cry; I pretend to do so
I pretend to cry…for my dead grandmother…
I pretend to be upset
I pretend to miss her

However, I know I will not be able to do this in real life
Society says that I should; but I know it will be impossible
I do not care that my grandmother is gone; I am relieved
Grandmothers are supposed to be loving memories
But to me Grandmother has always equaled alcoholic terror
She has haunted my dreams; terrorized them
A nasty demon spreading shame and fear

Tonight, suddenly, she has been exorcised from my dreams
I have killed off what she represents in my nightmares
She is vanquished
The dream switches
I rise out of this nightmare
Gasping into another

I am 15
I am in a cold muddy river
The river is swollen
Engorged by spring rains
Logs and sticks rush by me
Debry hits me on the arms
Sticks and logs hit my head
The muddy water is dragging me down
It rushes over my head
I go under
And under again
Choking on muddy water
Only one person knows where I am
A friend who is 14 and in the river with me
If we drown here
No one will know
They will not know where to look for our bodies
They could float from the Coal River to the Kanawha
Down to the Ohio and to the Mississippi
And they may never find us…
But it doesn’t happen
I come up
I rise out of the cold, muddy water

Into another
My mother questioning me, questioning everything
She has no confidence in me
When she sees my children, my mother says:
Did your mother not do this or that???
Why don’t you do this???
Why don’t you do that???
Why do you do this/that???
She says to them:
Doesn’t your mom make you do this/that???
Why??? What??? When??? Who???

If my mother had ever had any confidence in me
Who would I be today?
Where would I be today?

I do not drown
I rise in the mornings from the nightmares
I rise with a clear head
I feed my children
I successfully acquired my education
Still, like Maya Angelou, I rise
Still I rise again and again

I rise



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store
Rhonda Marrone

Rhonda Marrone


Poetry and Essay Writer. Be Open Editor. Lover of all things nature. You can most likely find me sitting under a tree ,watching birds, writing poems.