My brain yells at me, “RUN!”
But I need to stay.
Words explode in front of me,
erupting from people I would rather not see this way.
Out of control,
Hurting me. Hurting each other. Hurting themselves.
I look past the window
where rationality has been tossed,
and see in the glass reflection
people I know so well but do not recognize.
Bump. Set. SPIKE.
Insults volley from father to son.
From son to mother.
Feelings unexpectedly burst
but the conversation seems too well rehearsed,
for the words not to penetrate
or to brush them aside
as words not really meant and feelings not really felt.
Children, follow me.
Their ears, eyes, and hearts
are too young for these memories
to become stains forever.
But I think it’s too late for that.
We’re in their room now
pretending that its wooden door is made of steel.
Soundproof and dense,
too thick for emotion to enter.
Silence. Play. Distractions.
The screaming doesn’t end.
And alas, the door is thin and made of wood.
So we disperse,
because outside maybe our problems won’t exist.
But the world outside is too large and open
to contain the hurt and anger
of fresh wounds
itching for their pain to seep out.
One hour. Two hours. Maybe more.
“Is it safe to go back home?” one child says.
We return to utter silence
until some chatter begins:
Adults pretending nothing has happened,
but their children’s lives are forever changed.
Words that cannot be unheard.
Expressions that can’t be unseen.
New perceptions that can’t be undone.
A memory is molded into minds that wish they hadn’t. Life will forever be different.
Words are powerful.
This time, destructive.
More for the passive observers than for the active participants.
Yet powerful, nonetheless.
Confused, unsettled, and upset
I leave with uncertainty
about how to move forward
and wondering how everything will play out.
Trying to distract myself and think of anything but,
all I can bring myself to think about
And how simchah, happiness, is not something that can be forced,
even on my favorite holiday, Sukkot.