Plus ça change

Haven't we all gone through 
that phase, screaming I hate you 
to one or both parents, even 
going so far as encircling 
their throats with both hands 
before running out of the room? 
I was seven when I packed a hanky, 
a toothbrush and comb into a brown 
paper bag, frightened and at the same 
time hurt; enraged at the daily quarrels
they staged, not caring who heard. 
They were completely enamored 
with each other: my grandmother 
and the not good enough daughter-in-law 
she detested, my father an only son 
caught between two women he was trying 
to please; my mother the dark spit-
fire they were always threatening 
to put out. Around and around they went, 
one holding aloft a coffeepot fresh
from the stove, one clutching 
a plate to deflect. I didn't want
to have anything more to do with
them then. But someone caught up
with me at the end of the street, 
soothed me back home. Years
later, sometimes it still feels 
like I haven't left. I'm still
listening to sounds of anguish 
coming from the other side of the door.
Heart pounding, clutching meagre 
provisions to my chest.  
 

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