You Know Who You Are

by Lynda La Rocca

There’s no one home and nothing here, this place
is silent as a night without its star.
How could they all have vanished with no trace—
and why will no one tell me where they are?
If gone indeed, they surely travel far
to hide themselves.  The strong become the weak
and flee from those who would insist they speak

at least one truth where lies have lingered long.
The pain that stops the heart and sears the throat
is captured in the whisper of this song.
No dwelling, be it ever so remote,
can shelter them or shield them from each note
that I will raise, its echoes soft but clear,
to make them quake and shiver in their fear.

Where have you gone, you cowards, faithless fools?
Why suddenly do you appear afraid,
who still would barter dignity for rules,
who threaten, terrify, to be obeyed,
not once remembering the price was paid
in silence, tears, in secrets hidden deep,
that I was forced to worship and to keep.

No longer will I live in thrall to those
who tricked me into thinking it was right
to clasp the thorn and throw away the rose,
to seek no solace, much less seek delight,
to shun the sun and blot out all that’s bright.
So now I break these bonds that held me fast
and need no longer deify the past.

And though you can’t embrace me, I forgive
the wasted years, the coldness, and the pride
that turned each joy into a negative
and openly rejoiced at all that died.
I now declare you’ve no more need to hide.
Come back, go forth, it’s all the same to me.
Releasing you, I find that I am free.


This poem, written in rime royal or Chaucerian stanzas, won first place in The Joseph V. Hickey Memorial Award contest category of the 2004 National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc. annual contest.  The category judge was Iowa poet Viktor Tichy.  “You Know Who You Are” was originally published in Encore 2004 (National Federation of State Poetry Societies, Inc., San Antonio, Texas; 2004).