The Sentinel

The Sentinel

I love to see children having fun. Anything becomes a game, a great adventure, a reason to have fun. What did you love to play when you were a child?


The Sentinel

The Eastern European couples gather around the table
They are here most weekends
Perhaps knowing each other from the old country

Their children always with them
Three young girls growing up fast
A little boy now, too

The children drift off across the small vacant lot
Talking and playing, they head to the far street
Fifty yards is all but might as well be fifty miles

Do the parents know how quickly their lives can change?
How darkness can blot out the light?
I do, from the inside out

Should they be warned?
Is this the right thing to do?
I honestly don’t know

Obeying the voice of compulsion
I stand watch until the children return
It is not a choice

Why do I have to do it?
Because I know the lone dark terror
The wild beating of an innocent heart

I am the sentinel


Tom Tiernan 2012

Photo by Tom Tiernan

About the poem

People experience and come to grips with trauma in lots of ways. Similar experiences can manifest differently for each person. Hypervigilance is one manifestation. It is a blessing and a curse at times.

Questions for you

Have you ever experienced hypervigilance? How does it manifest?




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