Fathom Mag

Two Thieves

A poem

Published on:
June 14, 2017
Read time:
2 min.
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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.

Mary DeMuth
Mary DeMuth is an international speaker and podcaster, and she’s the novelist and nonfiction author of thirty-nine books, including the latest: We Too: How the Church Can Respond Redemptively to the Sexual Abuse Crisis (Harvest House Publishers 2019). She loves to help people re-story their lives. She lives in Texas with her husband of 29 years and is the mom to three adult children. Find out more at marydemuth.com, or be prayed for on her daily prayer podcast prayeveryday.show. For sexual abuse resources, visit wetoo.org.

Cover image by Joshua Earle.

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