What I Learned About Abuse

Last fall,
a sparrow fell-flew down my chimney shoot.
She perched on the unlit grill,
behind the mesh screen,
dirtying her little feet in grease and ash.

She turns her head to observe, serene.
I tiptoe to the window, and creak it open:
a breeze enters, and the street sounds amplify.
There is a narrow gap between the mesh screen, through which she can fly,
but she is still.

I stretch out my hand to pull back the screen,
to open her pathway.
And then: an explosion.
She reaches the ceiling, with all the unnaturalness of flutter without sky.
I can’t spot her: did she do it? Did she go?

But no, she’s by the foot of the sofa, her feet now tucked under her immaculate brown wings.
As if she can pass unseen in the long wooden panels of the floor.
I stare in bewilderment at this woefully
temporary solution.
Do not adjust: if you stay here, you will die.
I ask a neighbor for guidance, and she joins me,
standing and watching. If only we could scoop you up, take you outside and set you free.
But you don’t trust us, and a bird is meant to fly its own way.

We flap a towel to awake her from her delusion of safety,
and she flies up.
She does one lap around the room and then
heads to the window;
the other window – the one we didn’t open.

With a thud, she rebounds off the glass
and is once again still, left for us to gather her body and carry her outside.

In our neighborhoods, workplaces, churches, there are women who find themselves unexpectedly trapped.  They are isolated, disoriented, and often just try to blend into the floorboards.  The way out of a domestic violence situation or prostitution may seem obvious to those who onlook, but it is our role to open every window that we can for those who suffer, so they may find freedom.


Michelle Clark is a native Texan and upon graduating from Texas A&M, made Bolivia her home. In 2013, she joined the WMF community there, which facilitates abundant life for their friends affected by prostitution. Michelle shares her home with a Welsh missionary and enjoys dancing and writing.


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