Me, As a Child-Angela M. Carter
Trajectory Path
by Angela M. Carter

If you follow this map,
Please agree to leave what you find
as you found it.
The moments you will discover
are mirage of past;
mist of gray cloud;
slowly thinning.

Walk along the grass in the backyard–
follow the magnetic joints of past minutes
that joined days;
becoming roads
of a lay by lifetime.

Pass the chained dog
barking. Don’t worry;
he’s not dangerous.
He is warning you.

If you still care to proceed,
Enter by the blue backdoor.
Step inside; you’ll smell smoke;
the house’s natural scent.
Don’t worry; nothing this bad ever fully burns.

You will see a mattress on the laundry room
a lump of girl sleeping on it.
Don’t wake her.
Remember, you must leave things as you found them.
I tell you this, because if it could be changed, it would be.
You are only here, because you want to see the why’s.

This is the part that you play, like child;
duck around the corner, as I did–
this is a child’s game until
you see what it is you are about to see.

And like me, you are invisible.
(There are no words that can describe this yet)
Don’t try to think of words for this–
If I could have found the words, you wouldn’t be here.

Hell moves—watch it point you
along the miles of hallway–
it will call you by my name right about………
If you choose to follow it, like I did,
the light from the bathroom windowsill
is trying to finger itself out from under the door
at any moment.

You’ll see shadows boxing, one always
under the other, God-sized puppets on pine floor.
One shadow is my mother. She’s about to say:

               “please stop..if that’s you…run!”

The other shadow… taller every time she begs.
This shadow…is not ghostly at all…it crawled up my toes
with its own claws. These marks will not go away.

Please, Map-finder, step back, right now!!! 
I know you are wondering, where the map may have lead you if you’d      stayed.
I will tell you, because I know.
Return to the top line of this map.
Replace house, with years.
Replace girl, with woman.
And remember, that my life had to leave everything the way I’d found it.
(Even now, there are no words that can describe this yet).

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The photo was my happiest childhood memory — I felt beautiful that day. It was dress-up day at school, and my mother was loaned this dress for me to wear. It was probably the only day that I can recall feeling like a true little girl. The photo was taken around the age of 9/10, and around the same time as what my poem is speaking of. I submitted this photo as proof that you can’t look at someone and know what they are going through.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Angela M. Carter was born and raised in a Virginia farming town. She moved abroad, to England for nearly five years, after receiving a one-month scholarship to study at the University of Bath — and returned to Virginia with a new-found confidence and voice. Her first full-length poetry collection, Memory Chose a Woman’s Body (unbound CONTENT, May 2014) is a poetic journey and memoir that spotlights the effects of the silences endured after abuse, neglect, and depression. Angela is a 2014 Pushcart Prize nominee, a nominee for the 2015 Virginia Library Literacy Award (poetry), a motivational speaker, arts advocate, as well as a painter and photographer. Her publications include Deep Water Literary Journal, Whurk, Vox Poetica, Premiere Generation Ink, City Lit Rag, The Word Ocean, Worst Week Ever, Our Stories Untold, Gutsy Living, and several anthology publications. She is an advocate of the healing ability of the arts. A resident of Harrisonburg, VA, Angela is currently writing her second full-length poetry collection, beginning her first novel, has many upcoming art shows, and has frequent speaking engagements on abuse and depression awareness. Visit her at