The Voice of Divorce

The word sounds familiar to us, like something we've always known —
the cry of a newborn at 2 AM or an egg
frying in a hot iron spider.
Other couples have heard the word, flung out like a curse,
the flowered wallpaper absorbing the shock over breakfast.

Divorce — a dismal word —
it hurls itself into the offending party's face,
it screams into the backyard as one or the other
leaves for places or people unknown.
That's the way we've seen it played out — loud and fierce,
until a car speeds away or the police come.

Today the voice of our divorce was born;
slipping out anxious as a baby after 9 months of watery confinement.
I feel it hurry past my clenched teeth, hear it gush out
in a rush of vowels and consonants.
My mouth is full of copper,
the taste of secret words finally expelled.

For years that fearful voice lodged in my throat, dark and unspeakable,
its presence muffled as lovemaking behind whisper-thin walls,
(divorce, divorce, divorce).
I pretended divorce had no sound for us, no taste, no way of entering our dreams.
Now I know better.

It sounds like an approaching storm —
a grumble in the wind,
it feels like the roller coaster that whips you around for the fun of it,
it tastes like salty ocean tears left by years of raging waves.

It's a strain to know if the word was spoken at all.
Our return to silence is fast and complete.
Still the vibration hangs in the air, an impish spirit
waiting to hit the hardwood or sneak out the side door.
I bite my tongue. Copper fills my head.
There's no going back.


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