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 happeningI know how to tense my shoulders, and keep it all togetherI know how to rush to protect, and how to run, and drive into the nightI 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 silenceI know the demands and tiptoeing on eggshellsI know the countingof glassesof pintsof bottlesI 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 dogsI 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 lessonI 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 pretending, and spaces in the bed getting larger and larger and larger.I know new hope and new dreams and rising above it all.
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.