divorce: a ballad

he screams at her
and she screams back
he in this corner,
she in the other over there.
the children, they run back and forth with
“who will fix our toys?”

she screams at him
and he screams back
but only in their heads.
their mouths are silent and
their eyes don’t meet.

the children look from one and then the other,
they smell something, or is it feel,
they don’t know where to go.

he screams at her
and she screams back
and often in their dreams.
a thick and heavy web of secrets
lies gray between them
and dusty spiders leave a trail of poison
for woman, man, and child and child
to trip over and fall into.
it’s best to stay and not to move
and not to say a word.

everyday life, it forces them
to do some things together.
out on the street, a bag lady
walks up to them
and whispers to them
from between her gappy teeth:

“i see, guys, what you’re doing.
your hearts so heavy
and your brains so hot.
your child covered in wounds,
and this one, too.
i’m talking quiet
and probably you two can’t hear me.
but still, you need to know
that you don’t have to suffer just like this.
you want, or need, or think you have to
go your separate ways. and that’s ok.
but your paths need not,
really, they need not,
be strewn with broken glass.”

with that, she disappears
into the shadows.

the four come home.
melissa finds her trains.
katrina talks to mom.

he scowls at her
and she scowls back.
the creases down her cheeks
are maybe just a little softer
than an hour ago.

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