Two Thieves

If I had known Jesus then, I would’ve repeated his nine words to the indifferent sky

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?

But I was only five years old—small and broken and cracking apart

And what little shout I had trickled out my throat in whimpers

Two stronger than me shoved me earthward

Dirt tangling my hair, rocks cutting my skin

They embodied the thief Jesus mentioned—who stole, killed, destroyed

Stole wide eyed childhood

Killed pig tails bouncing from the weight of laughter

Destroyed abstracts like trust and love

The two thieves sauntered from me, laughing

How easy it was to violate, then eat popcorn, watch TV, play Monopoly

I became a mundane part of their day—only they could walk away without bleeding

I begged the canopy of trees for help

Their limbs did not answer back, did not swoop to earth in rescue

I whispered to my caregiver what happened

She happily opened the door to the two,

Shoved me out into the sunshine and hell

Let me think my parents knew, but didn’t care

I shrunk as small as a pine needle

Because if I were tiny, then maybe the thieves couldn’t see me

It’s hard to violate something trampled underfoot, right?

Or maybe that was their point

No one heroed me

No one heard me

No one heralded the small girl weeping for rescue

So I learned the hardest truth:

Protection only came if I hastened it myself

My legs, they put on sinew and they sprinted

From stealers, killers, destroyers

And for a while, all that running kept me safe

I had become a little savior of myself

My voice left.

A decade I kept the thieves’ secret

As it festered, strangled, wormed its way into my worthlessness

I pressed my index finger onto the blades of knives,

Wondering if the edges were sharp enough

To bleed this world of me

But an unseen hand stayed my own

And I lived


The churchgoers say folks meet Jesus because of sin

And they’d be right

Except it wasn’t my own that kept me staring up at him on that tree

It was theirs

While Jesus hollered his “My God, my God,”

I shuddered mine.

My God.

My God.

Naked on that crossbeam, stolen from, killed, destroyed

Hanging vulnerable between two thieves

He understood.

He is savior now

I have recused myself from the impossibly tiring task

Of rescuing myself

The thieves break in, re-haunting my memories

Ramshackle my worth

Because practiced robbers are good at their unseemly trade

And I believe their lies (I wish I didn’t)

My sprint is a limp, my legs heavy from the years

And I lean on the savior, my strength

Trembled voice, I tell the story of the little girl and the thieves

To those who sadly understand

We weep our sagas, reach shaky hands to the heavens

To the forsaken one

Our empathetic Jesus

Who cried those nine words between two thieves.

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