oftentimes, i will wake in the night
to the sound of cowardice—outside and inside—
strangers wailing about death, and aging, and
an indescribable need to be not loved but lusted after.

if

i tiptoe into the kitchen, seeking to drown myself
in the sink, i will find her weeping before the window,
smoking and drinking red wine, leaving old lipstick on the brim.
upon seeing me, she does not hide her tears, but her sadness
wavers and feels artificial when she realizes her audience.
she hates my father, she tells me, tells me that he will kill her,
and that she has been dying from him for twenty years.

when

she says this, i recall the things she had said to him,
how everything had happened for a reason, how she no
longer loved him, how she would prefer to be on her own,
(and i am not included in own)
how matrimony has sucked the life out of her more than
six children in her womb.
i will

never

forgive you for what you have done, i want to tell her
want to say but find the words dying with my own cowardice
in the cadence of my throat, i find instead
a scream of terror shaking the very walls until our world
dissolves into nothing but rusting timber and hesitance.

(when i was young,
she said that everything happens for a reason.)
but she has happened to me, and i cannot fathom a reason why,
and suddenly it is i that weeps.