nuclear family.

My street, March 8, 2022, between school & supper
In this house
I've learned the power
of patience. Of performed listening.
There are tears & there's anger. You're tempted
to solve it all or raise your voice around your children.
The fog of anger & the tear-stained eyes make them other beings.
And they're already good at turning the tables on you. They accuse, they
question, they recount quarrels in precise detail, each insult, each petty
unkindness brought to life anew. It all makes a frantic emotional sense.
So you listen & you soothe. If you're really strong, you make them
feel seen & loved. It's hard to live together sometimes.
It takes a power you didn't know you'd need,
you didn't know you had,
until it's there. 

Inspired by page 115 of Candice Iloh's Every Body Looking. Really like the way this looks on a computer screen--not sure the lines ebb & flow the same way on a phone. 

8 responses to “nuclear family.”

  1. The lines look to me like emotion rising and getting stronger, then subsiding. It mirrored my experience with my stepkids as they went from easy-going kids to emotional adolescents are sort of becoming easy-ish adults.


  2. I imagine turning the visual image of the poem 90 degrees counter-clockwise and getting this rise and fall house shape. I think of how a house contains a family and its dynamics. You poem captures family life as a container of emotions and interactions that scar and heal, bruise and fade. Power on both ends as pillars, sides that hold it all together despite the storms within.


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