I Know

I know the sound of drunken steps
the difference between good drunk and bad drunk
I know how to lie in the dark, listening.
I know how to pretend it's not happening
I know how to tense my shoulders, and keep it all together
I know how to rush to protect, and how to run, and drive into the night
I know how to sleep in parked cars; and the sound of the key,
and the stumbling and mumbling in the kitchen.
I know the slightest slur in the voice
and how to interpret steps; happy or angry
I know how to hold children in the dark, and breathe, and pretend to sleep heart pounding.
I know the shadow at the door, and the swaying form, menacing in silence
I know the demands and tiptoeing on eggshells
I know the counting
of glasses
of pints
of bottles
I know the pleading, I know the hope, I know the promises, I know the dust of broken promises.
I know the picking up of pieces and starting again - and again - and again.
I know of house moves and new hope and dashed hope and more pieces.
I know of broken sundays and broken week nights, of frightened children and missing dogs
I know how it feels to have something broken to teach you a lesson.
I know how it feels to have your children broken to teach you a lesson
I know the pathetic and grateful thankfulness for small crumbs of kindness scattered amid the ashes.
I know the pulling and the pushing, the tussles at the door, the pounding heart and the holding erect, as you watch your dreams disappear.
I know the numbness and the aching, the anger and the breaking, the chasing in the garden in the dark.
I know the talking and the meetings and the desperation.
I know the helplessness of holding a newborn in front of a drunk; and the pleading and the tears and the loneliness.
I know the lies and the truths and every shade in between.
I know the put-downs; I know the pissing on the floor; I know the mornings and the "sorries" and the "what's wrong"?s
I know the shame of grown men fighting in the street in front of children.
I know neighbours knocking on walls, I know neighbours turning cool, I know my heart breaking again and again.
I know new hope and new dreams and rising above it all.
I know pretending, and spaces in the bed getting larger and larger and larger.
I know cars driving away and cars coming back, I know accidents and broken things, and stories weaved to make things right, and terror coursing through the night.
I know the grey morning light, and desperation, and having nowhere to go. I know the sound and feel of drunken stupor, and knowing when its safe to tiptoe back inside.
I know the sound of drunk driving, the difference in speed and the turn in the drive. How the footsteps emerge and approach the door. I know swaying in the hall, I know calling out of children in the night.
I know the screaming, I know the meaning of trying to break through. I know fear, I know dread, I know being afraid to go home. I know being afraid to leave home.
 I know courts, and orders.
I know sadness, and endings, and bags packed, and angry departures, and the flinging of words, and the flinging of rings.
 I know never, never, never again.