“…we have been socialized to be the keepers of grave and serious secrets—especially those that could reveal the everyday strategies of male domination, how male power is enacted and maintained in our private lives.” ~bell hooks, The Will To Change
My song is a sacred scream
Learned from listening
To my friends on our street—
“No, No, No”
The tip-tap of slamming doors.
First a mother’s, then a sister’s plea
Then a brother’s rising silence.
Their dad stood at the end of the driveway smoking a cigar;
Mother, sister, and brother were inside, the lights on.
I brushed my teeth to the rhythm of the cries and slaps that reached
Me through the open bathroom window.
The furies inside my hand brushed up and down. My gums bled.
I couldn’t stop the bleeding. I turned off the light.
In bed, I heard Papa and my mom waltz down the hallway
His buckle scraped her ear and his battered knuckle held her wrist;
—Her countenance could not unfrown itself—I didn’t need to see
What I knew. He seemed happy, and the last few nights weren’t too bad.
The whimpers and sighs subsided in time for my waltz to begin:
Papa’s heavy stomps from down the hallway rattled my baseball trophies.
His ring clinked against the metal doorknob. I covered my head. Stomp stomp, stop.
I smelled the wine on his breath, felt the slap on the side of my head, heard the ringing,
Pled “No No No,” and listened to the silence echo in my room.
The day was over when Papa left my room for his, and began to snore.
My swelling and sobs passed, and left in their place—tomorrow.