I learned very early in life
not only to listen for sounds of war
outside the door
but to listen for the war being waged between my parents.
Noise – louder than anything I’ve heard since –
noise to make the ears bleed and the body wince.
Everywhere a hideous symphony,
a murderous, murdering cacophony,
a full-scale blitz of confusion.
Sirens signalling danger,
the droning of aeroplanes,
the whistle of rockets
suddenly silent before they stall
and then fall.
Deadly blows dished out at random,
explosions, commotions sending us running for shelter.
No such signals at home. Always an ugly surprise.
Shouts and cries, accusations and lies
bounce off the walls, echo down the hall
to my bedroom where I try to muffle my ears.
Furniture falls or is thrown, for reasons unknown,
and there is no hiding place or someone to call.
For the bombs we have a cellar or shelters outside
but there is no shelter
from the helter-skelter payload of words
that do more damage than any weapon of war.
The enemy outside was the terror common to all every day
but we had our own in-house terrorist
always ready with something to say –
to self-destruct or lay waste if we got in his way.
The enemy without and the enemy within
provoke fears and tears
and are as ugly as sin in my child’s mind
and I can’t find the difference when the fear feels the same.
The assault is relentless and follows wherever I go.