The Persuader

Silently threatening
from the back of their bedroom door
they jokingly call it “The Persuader”
but I was not laughing.


It seems to have a life of its own
with beady eyes and flickering tongue
that sting on contact and make me run

Sometimes it does a random dance on the table
breakdancing against the fridge
causing dust to rise from the couch
where I am sitting

When the end catches my arm
I cry out in pain, but
the operator remains stoic as she says
“Well, it’s your own fault;
You better get out of the way.”

There are days when its snaky existence
has nearly slipped my mind
until anger comes crashing through the door
yelling with the voice of authority
shouting that I need to clean up the kitchen

The power in his voice
causes me to lay down my sandwich
and bend over the couch
while the Persuader stings my legs over and over

Holding my breath
I refuse to cry
seventeen is too old to cry over a spanking
but when the anger storm is over
he leaves the house
and I am alone
with sobs ascending from the depths of my soul

My wails solicit heaven
because I realize the Persuader
has convinced me
that I have nowhere to go with
no friends
no high school education
no right to my own money
no right to voice my own opinions
no right to ask any questions
like why and how come
and worst of all–
no right to question God.

They say they are doing their religious duty–
that God will punish me if they don’t
and would I prefer to be thrown into the lake of fire?

With wounds festering in my heart
I cry out to Jesus, “Where were you?”
then Jesus reveals how God uses His power.

I see shoulders striped with blood
a crown of thorns stabbing against his brow
and as I watch the Creator
beaten by His creatures
I discover God
is not the way I thought He was.

Silent, hanging, without any motion
from the back of their bedroom door
the Persuader asserts its malicious spell
as it threatens and sneers
that I don’t deserve more.

But then Jesus whispers my name
and points to the scars on His back
I did it for you child
I never left you before
but I have cursed the Persuader
and he can harm you no more.

-Cherilyn Clough


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