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I found a flower on the ground today. It was purple- an artist would go as far as to call it lilacand I thought it was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen. I wanted to protect it, from the powers that be, from the mean boys down the block, from Ms. Anderson’s sweet little tabby cat. I don’t know wh, but I saw that flower and immediately thought it was in grave danger. I picked it up gently off the pavement, and ran home to put it in a little mason jar of water.

I could hear the silence, thick as wool, greet me when I swung open the door. Father sat in a dusty arm chair, reading a paper three days old. Death and destruction, I’m sure, but I didn’t bother to stop and sound out the words. I ran into the kitchen and there was Mother, getting ready to make dinner. She was cutting vegetables, and I could see she had mutilated her way through the onion- rough, asymmetrical cuts that left you with either a bland mouthful, or an overpowering tidal wave of onion- and was not on the carrots. She was silent, didn’t acknowledge I was there, so I brushed past her, climbed on top of the counter, and grabbed a small little jar for my new flower. I decided to call him “Buddy”.

I knew not to speak right now, there was a fight happening that I did not want to be a part of. I was not to be heard or seen, as the theory for all children goes, and so I crept over to my window seat in the kitchen nook to play with Buddy and observe. Every rustle from Father’s newspaper or every slice from my Mother’s gleaming knife made the other person’s eyes quickly dodge away from what they were doing to look. The tension was palpable, and I stroked Buddy’s soft petals and waited.

Eventually, the dark streaks in the east of the sky stretched across the whole thing, and it was night. Mother was on the last item on her cutting board list, the meat she had written me a note asking to pick up in town earlier that week. Father cleared his throat, rose creakily from his chair, and walked soberly and silently up the stairs to their bedroom. Mother turned to me, and in a barely audible voice told me to wash up. I made my way quietly into the kitchen, stood on my stool in front of the sink, and began to rinse my hands. Beside me, Mother continued to cube hunks of meat. I looked up to sneak a look at her face.

She was crying.

Tears were falling onto the cutting board, mixing with the meat, her eyes so blurred she couldn’t see what she was doing. I saw small nicks in her hands, where the knife had caught her. Blood trickled from her fingers and mixed with the vegetables, and the meat. I watched, transfixed, as she continued to haphazardly slice, gradually becoming more and more careless and therefore more and more dangerous. More and more cuts sprung up on her hands, some quite deep. She continued to cry silently, and I could hear Father’s footsteps overhead, the running of tap water and then the creaking of the stairs. He rounded the corner of the hallway and took a moment to survey the scene. His child was there, running their hands under the kitchen sink, and his wife was crying over a bloody mess of his uncooked dinner. His face hardened.

Usually she didn’t do this when they knew I was around.

He strode across the kitchen, grabbed my mother by the wrists, and lead her roughly over to the sink. Pushing me out of the way, he ran her hands under the hot water, She began to cry more sudibly, not from the pain but in the same way people cry harder if you ask them what’s wrong. She cried, harder and harder, choking on sobs seeming to come from her very depths.

I inched out of the kitchen, grabbed Buddy, and sat with him at the dinner table. As I pulled out a chair, I could hear her asking Father hysterically; “oh, what’s the use, Will? What’s the use?” Father pulled her close, in an awkward hug, and stroked her hair. She stumbled toward the cutting board again, but he held her and continued to pet her. Like a hysterical dog. He looked over at Buddy and I, and quietly told me to make a sandwich and go to bed.

This poem is about: 
My family


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