Vacancy

2 AM, she catches brother angry and muttering

at the end of the dark hallway.

He holds dad’s collection of T.S. Elliot,

fingers blanched white from clenching so tight.

 

He is searching for dad’s story in the pages,

hoping to find a stanza or line to clear up the edges of the night.

Some people feel poetry rather than “get” it,

but he is angry and tries to twist the words into what he needs to hear.

 

Anger is not an emotion but a product of shame, she tells him.

But he cannot hear her; he’s lost in the hallway,

reeling about and closing open doors.

 

She finds comfort in the kitchen, where low lights beneath the cabinets

cast streams like shooting stars across the countertop.

She slides open the freezer, then closes it;

open and close, just like that; a percussion solo in her head.

 

Then sits on the little circle rug,

traces its checkered pattern.

Listens to the thunder and hum of the fridge;

tries not to hear him upstairs.

 

On opposite ends of an empty house

they navigate the dark.

Wait for 2 a.m. to pass,

for thought to catch up with the heart.

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