WHEN OUR PARENTS FIGHT—
for my brothers
Never before had it wronged into silence,
had the screaming and tears
given way to a stillness, this government
hush even the house could feel.
Generally, when our parents fought,
they’d tell one another
exactly where it hurt; which anniversary
forgotten, evenings destroyed.
Like crows, they would peck and peck
at the dead until all we longed for
was a normal divorce: the luxury of
hating one’s lover from afar.
But they didn’t hate each other
and so it got worse—
our mother in the kitchen taking scissors
to coupons. Dad at his desktop
pretending to fly—
both of them quiet now as though they’d run
out of ways to bring the other down.
This, we knew,
was a new kind of fighting,
and the three of us tightened to endure its blow.
—from Rattle #26, Winter 2006