Friday, March 21, 2014

In the darkness

he makes his choice,
and her life turns in the same moonlight 
that has always silhouetted  the clown
dangling on a swing above her bed
where the hearts-and-flowers quilt
matches the paper I pressed
to the walls of her bedroom
when she was not quite five,

but she is twelve now,
with a body that both confuses
and frightens
as he runs his hands
over her budding breasts.                                                                                                 

He moves in silence
while I, unknowing, lie sleeping down the hall
in a bed we’ve shared for sixteen years.
Each morning, he sips his coffee.
Each night, he takes his seat at the table’s head
intoning the prayer of his father’s homeland:
Alle guten gaben… kommt o Gott von dir…

Through years of oblivion,
I believed there was goodness,
that God did, indeed, bring gifts,
and I made my way, hopeful
that stepping carefully ensured a right path,
that keeping peace staved off the bite of his anger,
that loving my children well offered them sanctuary.

Now, in each moment of surfacing,
I feel the burden of his choice,
and the illusion of overcoming 
slips away.

Too late, I realize that life always follows choice,
sometimes in ways one cannot imagine,
often in ways one cannot control,
and that anger ripples outward
in ever-widening circles.

Life holds sorrow like a weeping willow,
like the trunk of a plum tree
fractured by the weight of heavy snow,
its fragrance forever erased, all these years later,
by the anger that strips bare my fragile heart.


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