Father restrains her.
Once, twice, thrice.
We two kids,
We see and hear
From the crack in our bedroom door
We want to stop our ears.
We cry too.
Too young to know why it is like this.
Want to come out and console,
But scared to open the door.
Calm comes, sometimes,
And there is what passes
For family love,
But these two little ones
Had now a cautiousness, a tentativeness
That precluded real joy.
Awaiting, with dread, what would happen next.
We were showered with gifts
At Christmas, if Dad had a bankroll.
Feast of presents,
Famine of spirits.
A month later, bailiff at the door.
Everybody hide, don’t make a sound.
They will go away.
Then, out for a ride,
We two captives in the back seat.
The bickering begins
Between mother and father.
At a stoplight, she makes her escape,
Screams at him from the open door,
Then runs the other way.
We cry again, until he is able
To cajole her back in.
We were never hit, but seldom touched.
No cruel or unusual punishment,
But, it is hard to remember times of love,
Under the shadow of these things that fester.
A learned apprehension that now comes so naturally.