our life became simple inertia,
trying to swim through sand.
it wasn’t champagne and strawberries
spread over a blanket in the park.
waking up with him was habitual,
like a cigarette after sex.
that love story we spun for the kids
just a black and white framed lie
the rumble of floors, high and low
for my voice, and then his
climbing over each other
reaching the only ears
we wanted to protect.
our words were knights
began noble, good-intentioned
until the fencing began and we both
became vikings and gladiators
willing to wound and destroy
if only to win the kids’ favor.
I’d say put away your sword, lover,
you won’t need it at the table,
take off the helmet, no blows will fall.
but we have enough years between us
and he always knew when I lied.
and the kids know better don’t they?
our children wear armor to dinner
we eat without eyes ever meeting,
to the sound of forks clawing against plates
everyone trying not to be the first
to split the heavy black silence.
the worst of it wasn’t the quiet,
at least then you can pretend it’s calm.
but when his glass shattered
raining shards upon the floor
and the kids’ eyes shuttered closed
it became our last meal together.
when it was darkest that night
I clicked seat belts closed,
drove away without headlights,
and the radio switched off.
the kids didn’t even ask.
kids are more honest with themselves.