I make it home alone after 13 hours of driving in the dark night.
We barely stopped to eat or drink.
My sister used her last bit of cash for a motel room in Quincy
(she’ll stay in motels for the better part of a month).
I got a flat tire 5 miles from my house
my husband comes to get me in the middle of the night.
A different set of cops stop to ask if I’m alright. Yeah, just need to sleep.
I look into my kids’ rooms and watch them sleep.
I take a shower at 3 am
needing to wash off the stench of her cigarettes and her trauma.
She must know that I know that she knows
that if I didn’t have kids, I would have taken her home.
I would have let her scream and rage
I would have gone quiet and made tea
and hoped for the best. I live in a forest.
It brings me cliched calm and serenity.
I would have tried to listen while she
exclaimed that her life was unfair
that mine was easy–
a declaration even more messed up than it sounds
in the face of facts and realities.
My children don’t know trauma.
They’ve known only one set of parents.
They’ve only known a handful of arguments.
They’ve never waded through what her presence would be
here in this house, next to the campground.
Where the forest in the early morning is damp and renewed.
She isn’t mine to save. She’s 38.
They deserve a life without trauma. As much as I can give.
I stare at them again as they sleep.
I can feel her screaming inside my head.
You’re choosing them over me.