Not All Broken Homes are Loud
My mother moves around the kitchen, anger
pulsing under her skin like a fever dream, and
I want to reach out to her, but the room is so
full of the ghosts of all we’ve done to each other.
Our good intentions can’t be communicated
in the same language, so I retreat, let the
ghosts rush in to fill the space I’ve left
My father cries in his car late at night,
head hung heavy with could-have-beens.
I watch the tears trace the tracks in his
face, worn down by years of expectations and
I want to tell him I made his favorite
dinner, but I know that one daughter’s
love is not enough to fix all that has
cracked. I leave a plate in the microwave
My brother punches holes in the wall, throws
his weight against closed doors until
they escape their hinges. I want to tell him
that none of the doors are locked, that there
is still time for him to be everything he wants
to be. But I know this is all part of the process.
He will learn eventually and I will be waiting for
I scream into pillows, throw all my books off
the shelves. I fall asleep to the gentle rise and
fall of my own aliveness. I don’t know what I’m
looking for, but I know that I will have to find it
on my own.
By Ailey O’Toole
Ailey O’Toole is a 22-year-old bartender and writer who writes about feminism, empathy, and pain. Her work has previously appeared in After the Pause, The Broke Bohemian, The Odyssey, and is forthcoming from the Fredericksburg Literary and Art Review. She hopes everyone who reads her poems feels a little less alone in their struggle. You can follow her adventures at @ms_ocoole.