The Territories of Heartache

He is the head of the family.

He is the man, the alpha male.

He is seated at the top of the table,

Opposite him, nobody.


When he screams, everybody is silent.

He knows how to use his voice

To terrorise. It feels like his soul

Is leaving his body in tremors and drumrolls.


His voice imposes his entire body, its crafty violence.

This man has several faces, several truths.

To stand up to him means breaking your own silence,

Backing up your own truth.


He is a despot and a man of integrity.

He is made of contradictions.

He is a well-constructed house, the outer and inner

Are incompatible, the drunk and the sober.


The worker and the adulterer,

The father and the family man,

The husband and the provider.

He is a wound that never heals.


He has every right to touch his family,

To use his hands and fists and hollering voice,

But no other man may do the same things he does,

That’s when his morals kick in, that’s a territorial war.


You look upon him in confusion,

You need to learn how to survive, you need

To understand how he functions in order to make it

Out of his terror house alive.


Love is so twisted, the hands that caress are the hands on my throat.

The eyes enamoured are the same ones that radiate the urge to annihilate.

Where do I stand? I can never know.

I know that every move, every position, I take, determines whether


I live or die. This man’s moods and depressions and hovering guillotines.

He follows me around, in my mind, in my steps, my unshackled hands.

My body doesn’t know yet that it is safe, it always takes me back into a frozen state.

My head knows, his reign is a dead thing, conquered not quite, but I’m alive and running.


“Study for Lady Lilith” by Dante Gabriel Rossetti (1828-1882)

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