Posted on September 24, 2011
Sunday morning light always breaks too soon.
I open my eyes and stretch, but only as a pretense.
We both know I’d rather stay in bed.
Already you’ve been up for hours
And I wonder with a casual sense of dread
Who awoke on your side of the bed –
The angel I so adore, or the shadows that hide within.
Downstairs, I face the bathroom mirror,
Pretending not to know how the little girl
Too naive to heed the warning signs –
Too naive, or stupid, or insecure, or desperate,
So eager to join to the first man kind enough to promise
That she’d never have to return to her father’s house,
Or at least never have to return to his name –
Became the cold, empty shell that greets me now.
You’ve just returned from the kitchen.
I step into the room too carelessly to hear the click
Of the mine trigger before you explode,
The shrapnel of your words darting past my ears,
And I dare not move until I can assess the damage.
From where I stand, I can see the photograph
Hung to hide the evidence of where
Your fist met the wall sometime last year,
And I ponder what will be broken this time –
A laptop, a glass, a stack of dishes, or something more –
Wondering how long I must wait for you to forget
Your need to maintain appearances long enough
To hit me just one more time,
Hoping you’ll be sloppy enough to leave a mark
So I have a reason to leave for good
Instead of just a migraine that lasts for two days.
You settle instead for throwing the cup of hot coffee
You poured for yourself only moments before,
Cooled enough by milk to leave no scalding on my skin.
I say nothing, but the baby screams
And I lean down to pat her on the head,
Too soaked to lift her in my arms and comfort her
Before stepping into the next room to change my clothes,
Noting as I close the door the two places
Where the wood is cracked and broken
From where you forced it open during
My last two attempts to shut you out.
I start to pack, but it is only a gesture.
We both know I can’t afford to leave you,
And there’s no one here to ensure you don’t prevent me.
So I kneel and pray for Monday to arrive instead.
Already I know how the day will go.
The Monday morning alarm never sounds soon enough,
But once it does, I’ll rush off for my eight hours of freedom
Observing throughout the day how normal people interact,
Imagining for even a few moments how it would feel
To somehow belong.
I’ll fantasize about separate checking accounts
And how much of my paycheck I can hide,
About apartments and childcare arrangements
That don’t involve you.
Then driving to your mother’s house to pick up the baby,
I’ll wonder if this is the night I’m brave enough
To divert to a hotel instead.
But invariably I always return to you.
After a day spent in complete solitude,
You’ll be all little boy affection in your loneliness
And I’ll lean in to kiss your cheek,
Too ashamed to admit the best part of my day
Was the time spent planning how to leave you.