Secret Hideaway
by Cynthia Bryant

My needs were many
the summer I turned 5
A hollowed out space
behind the mulberry bush
that seemingly hugged the house
provided for the most immediate
of these

Friendly shelter
from pounding heat
of central California’s
relentless sun

Shiny leaves
fantasized poisonous
then chewed
to kill my sadness

The only safety available
for an unhappy child in braids
my private hiding place
until Mama’s anger cooled

PHOTOGRAPH: This is (little) Cindy. She is five years old and pictured with her only unconditional love called Scotch when her family lived in Atwater, California.


Cynthia Bryant
’s poetry ranges from world news, to poignant pieces closer to her heart: love, family, incest, and injustice. Cynthia has been invited to read her poetry throughout California in diverse venues, including coffee shops, fairs, art galleries, schools, battered women’s shelters, and a federal prison. First published in 1997 by two important journals dealing with childhood sexual abuse, Cynthia has since been published in over 30 anthologies. Her books Sojourn, Pebbles in the Shoe, and No Time to Shoot the Poets were accepted into the Ina Coolbrith Circle section in Sacramento State Library’s Special Collections Reading Room. She is the Poet Laureate Emerita of Pleasanton, California.