Dirty Laundry

When you hit me,

Daddy, did you aim

for my thighs,

buttocks, back, belly?

Or did you strike out blindly,

carried on tsunami waves

that were born fathoms deep

and traveled far,


growing in fury

until they broke

on the designated shoreline

of my body?


Where your hand

or fist or belt

pounded into my very cells

that I was bad, bad, bad—

like in ancient times

on the morning after a wedding,

when the women would pound the sheets

against rocks to beat out the stains—

you pounded and you pounded

and then you hung me out to dry.

Cynthia Bernard is a woman in her early seventies who is finding her voice as a poet and writer of flash fiction and essays after many years of silence. A long-time classroom teacher and a spiritual mentor, she lives and writes on a hill overlooking the ocean, about 25 miles south of San Francisco. Her work has appeared in Multiplicity Magazine, Heimat Review, The Beatnik Cowboy, The Journal of Radical Wonder, The Bluebird Word, Passager, Persimmon Tree, Poetry Breakfast, Verse-Virtual, Witcraft, and elsewhere. She was selected by Western Rivers Conservancy to serve as the Poet-Protector of Deer Creek Falls in the northern Sierra Nevada foothills.