The Still Life of Cold Coffee & Struggling Carousels: A Poem

I never knew the amount of voices that

Surrounded her when she despaired at the kitchen

Table. I thought I had known her inside out.

As she held me against her chest.

I could never feel the sound of war drums.


She stared at the details of the house she lived in.

Trying to escape, make the first step, in her mind.

Her moments of timed joy landed on the kitchen counter,

And like dirt and dust they were wiped away, absorbed

By a dead material. As if nothing mattered.


I could never see things from her perspective.

The way she repeated every single day and hoped

That it would suddenly change. She ascribed no

Power whatsoever to herself. She had been stripped

Of everything that she was. And she did her best.


I had the impression that things were okay, even though

They weren’t. He made sure of that. She had been a woman

Who had already survived the most substantial of wounds

And yet, in his arms, against his lips, his demanding sex, the

Feigned intimacy of his breath, she became a girl again.


His touch made her crumble, the old pattern of men

That she knew too well, unwelcome, uninvited, domineering.

She had never been taught the language of asserting herself.

Every muscle and bone had been softened at someone else’s

Will, someone who profits from submissive bodies that got

Robbed of their sense of self and will.


Always framed by shut windows, the cold coffee reminiscent

Of a still life that never ends, the broken carousel of faded colours,

The fantasies she dove into to keep herself alive, in a different moment,

Never in the present, never reclaiming the power of that precise instant,

Looking at me, looking at him, her, him, her, thinking how am I going to do this?

woman in white collared shirt
Photo by cottonbro on

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