A Child's Step

by Mike Berlin

'twas dark and dank upon the bog,
All covered o'er by mist and fog,
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
Rotting oaks, their branches stark,
Peat and lichen, bog moss, dark.

Soggy ground befouled and ill
Putrid rot of waters still,
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
But none to see her. Not one who cared.
Alone, forsaken, cold, and scared.

Her parents loved her, so they said,
They raised her, kept her clothed and fed,
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
"We gave her everything she wanted,
But still she mocked us, cursed and taunted."

Iron fist in velvet glove,
Was all she knew of parents' love.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
She was a child of neglect,
But they demanded her respect.

She'd ranted, shouted, sought attention,
They’d decried such fevered invention,
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
She’d craved but love, a parent’s devotion,
They drained her soul of all emotion.

And at thirteen, yet still a child,
She’d wandered off into the wild.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
Down the wooded lane she ran,
Until she saw a shadowed man.

‘Beware of strangers’ she’d been taught,
Such as they with dangers fraught.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
The man was bearded, his step did quicken,
She turned to flee, trembling, stricken.

What could she do but turn away?
From strong, stout path she went astray.
A child's step so out of place,
Might disappear without a trace.
And thus avoiding unknown stranger,
Plunged unwitting there to danger.

Off the path so old and true,
Through the meadow damp with dew.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
O'er the fence of rough hewn log,
She found herself upon the Bog.

Bogbean grows in shallow waters,
Creeping rhizomes, hairy flowers.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
Bog Oak hard and blackened wood,
Limbs that cross, a grotesque rood

Yet no redemption, no escape,
As feet upon this rough ground scrape.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
No savior here, within the fog,
For those that err into the bog.

She roams the bog, her way is lost.
Free at last, but what the cost?
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
And so begins the child fair
To feel the tendrils of despair.

Running, searching for the trail,
Tears are streaming, face is pale,
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
Her pursed lips emit a wail,
Woe to her and her sad tale

The black night's silence ripped asunder,
Imagined scream or merely thunder?
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
She turns to run, escape, to flee,
But in her haste, she doesn't see.

She sinks in mud and fetid mire,
The need to flee her sole desire.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
With malice doth the mud hold tight,
The other foot sinks out of sight.

And as she struggles to free her foot,
From brackish slime as black as soot,
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
Within her builds a scream so manic,
Erupting forth as full fledged panic.

Woe to he that e'er forgets,
The more you struggle, the worse it gets.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
'twill suck you in - the bog's a keeper,
Remain ye calm, or you'll sink deeper.

Gasping, rasping, panic filled,
Clothes all muddied, bones stone chilled.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
Clawing at the peaty loam,
Her thoughts return once more to home.

At home, 'tis true, she hated all,
But any haven in a squall…
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
She foundered in this sea of lime,
No refuge here, just noxious slime,

In murky sludge n' pity she wallowed,
Gagging, rancid water swallowed.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
Her cries for help revert to tears,
A shameful waste of thirteen years.

Yielding to the fear and cold,
Life withdraws, and death takes hold.
A child's step in this foul place,
Shall disappear without a trace.
And then one day the bones they'll find,
What carrion birds have left behind.

To the Bog with dread they pace,
Her disappearance now to face.
Empty hearted, heads a'bow,
They cannot comprehend just how,
A child's step in that foul place,
Could disappear without a trace.


Mike Berlin's picture

ABOUT THE POET ~
Mike Berlin, is a happily married father of four. He works by day in special education, and by night writing prose and poetry. Originally from the USA, Mike now resides in Israel.

Last updated August 18, 2011