Separation

“Wander” by Andrea Soos

I never said goodbye.

my voice had long been silenced
when that day came
suddenly
jolting us out of pretense

your roar slashed through a quiet evening
iron fists splintered the pretty blue dresser
she’d painted herself

thin shell of decorum shattered
our family’s ugly shame
exposed

then
a chain reaction

gone–
nervous fretting before you walked in the door
all the names you would call me
muscular arms pinning me down
your handprints marking my skin in blues and purples

gone–
my pillow & fuzzy blanket
that white ceramic pitcher I loved
my paintings
four baby books
those little details written down so I wouldn’t forget
our babies’ favorite foods
tricks for soothing fussiness

did she prefer pears or bananas?
was it bouncing or swaying that lulled him to sleep?
little flecks of gold
left behind in the wake of our undoing

now, notebooks
filled with therapy notes
a calendar packed with
counseling appointments
and endless court dates

a sorrow-full trade

how do you grieve a loss you wanted?
how do you mourn rescue?

I miss Snowpaws
she used to push her face into my palm
and walk all over my keyboard
her tail tickling my nose
that stupid cat
how could I have known
I would never see her again?

I wish I had told you one more time–
not that it would have meant anything to you–
I loved you
I didn’t want it to be this way

I grieve the cost of your violence
the losses are innumerable
and I am ever coming up short to replace them

you lost your whole family in a day
yet, I can finally breathe.

we found freedom
exchanged dignity
for safety

my feelings crash up against each other
an incongruent mess
longing, relief
terror, jubilation
compassion, bitterness
like one of those ugly abstract paintings
where the colors don’t make any sense
and I think,
this isn’t art.

I tilt my head
where is the beauty?
is it safe to hope?

an upward curve
a smudge of yellow here
is that sunshine
peeking through the dirt?

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