Disclaimer: This poem contains references to domestic abuse, and may be difficult for some to read.

 

When I met your mother, I wondered why her mouth was sewn shut.

He seemed to talk enough for you to forget that she used to smile,

While she told you bedtime stories and jokes and fairy tales.

Which stopped when your father came home.

 

You never noticed the energy,

The light in her eyes leave her at each glance of her left hand.

Everything matched in your house,

Your father wanted perfection.

 

Each slice of cake was the same size,

Because otherwise,

It might end up upside down

On the kitchen floor.

 

Your mother’s blood matched the cherries on the cake, maybe he did it on purpose.

After all, coordination was key.

Her purple bruises

Didn’t match your father’s favourite yellow dress.

 

But it was okay,

Because she painted them away with a makeup brush she held shakily in her right hand,

As your father stood and watched from behind,

His shadow casting over half her face.

 

Your father’s favourite yellow dress was too small.

And it pinched when she zipped it up.

And had been for as long as she started noticing the warning signs.

I couldn’t understand why she didn’t just leave.

 

Now as I look in the mirror,

I wondered where my smile went.

If the child inside me will even survive to hear bedtime stories and jokes and fairytales.

 

Our living-room matched too.

It matched my blood splattered on the wall beneath the thick coat of paint.

But it didn’t matter,

Because no one could see it anyway.

 

We held hands.

You told me to stop shaking as you squeezed my hand, reminding me of greater pain.

“It’s a girl, congratulations!”

When we got home, I wiped my face clean.

 

Purple and red emerged from underneath my tan foundation.

You spat at me and slammed the door shut.

And I cried.

And I couldn’t understand why I couldn’t just leave.

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