Phoenix Rising

By Deborah T.

My twin sister and I were born in Kentucky in 1961. We were the youngest of 12 children. My father moved the entire family to Prescott, Arizona where I lived from the age of 1 year until I was 15. We were raised in “The Park,” a communal trailer park under Leo Mercer, one of William Branham’s endorsed Tape Boys. He claimed to be “The Servant of The Lord.” He was not a man of God. He was a pervert and took pleasure from punishing children. His punishments usually involved something of the extreme opposite of what we were taught form our earliest moments. Thus, setting us apart, marking us as unacceptable within our own communal society. He would dress the boys up like girls and he cut all my hair off not once but twice.


All my formative years were spent there, and I had a moment as a child when I thought I would go crazy. Leo Mercer liked to beat children and strip them naked and force them to walk through The Park. He did this to two of my brothers. There came a day when he threatened to do this to me and I didn’t think I could bear it. The humiliation and shame would break my brain. I was desperate and the only protector I had was my Heavenly Father. I cried out to Him and begged for His help even while I wondered if He even knew I existed. That punishment did not evolve and so my mind was spared but there were many more to come. I decided I would endure whatever I needed to if I could just have my brain intact. I made it through years of mental and physical abuse to come through to the other side. I built a safe place for my psyche and soul using what I think of as bricks. I relate strongly to rising like a Phoenix from the ashes of helplessness and defeat.


"I Have Often Wondered About My Soul"


Do I have one?

Is it an iconic aura around my head?

Where does it live?

In those triangular spaces

in the bloody chambers of my heart?

Is it counted in my timed ruby pulse?

Can I feel it at my throat and wrist,

groin, knee, and ankle?


Is it the hatchling?

Wobbly and embryonic

fragile, pink, and unprotected

warbling, deep within my psyche?

Was it my soul I protected

when I was a child

or was it my sanity?

Was it both?


Is my soul a who or a what?

Does it belong to me?

or to God?

Is it my soul I labored for?

built a fortress for?

knowing surely

that feathers were

no protection for my tiny id


I built my fortress with bricks

Shame is a brick

Fear is a brick

Humiliation is a brick

Confusion is a brick

Pain is a brick

Obstacles become bricks

Bricks are

solid fortification


Did I save my signet soul

with my will and learned control?

Or did God save my soul

when I begged for his help?

Did God, as I was taught

hold my soul to be

of greater value

than my body and mind?


I have found my soul is an endless nexus

A thought, a beam

a heartbeat, an expression

a sentient specter rising

inside me, beside me

before me, behind me

from my fortress

A fully awakened Phoenix