My family has been tiptoeing around
a bomb. It's 11 years old
with a short fuse.
It's a noisy thing. It's screaming
and slamming and rage rage rage,
his chair scraping across the floor
as he's sent away to solitude,
the jangle-whoosh-whisper of a belt
being whipped out of pant loops
(a threat that looms without striking),
his sister's wails when he snaps.
The noise scrambles up my brain,
sends my nerves to the surface
of my skin, leaves me lurching
in the dark for compassion, restraint.
It gets trapped inside me until
I'm vibrating with white-hot frustration,
my throat craving the cleansing scream.
This is not how I'll live,
not the childhood I'll give them.
So I listen to my heart,
give him the space and silence
to defuse, to regroup, to relax.
I give him hours of silence
that are loud with quiet sounds:
His pencil against paper, the sharp
intake of breath when he spies
a grosbeak or a blue jay
at the bird feeder, the excitement
of an afternoon that's only his.
But the silence is loaded with
worry, too. I listen to it,
note its shape, memorize its cadence.
I pray the balance can last.
But this is just our start:
listening to and honoring what's broken,
and giving each other (and ourselves)
the space and time to heal.