She trembles, wondering how it could have befallen her
again despite memories of childhood nights spent
huddled in hidy-holes between wardrobes and walls,

dank corners where she cowered like a fawn, pleading
with God to stop the fury raging through rooms below,
Mother’s whimpering, silences seeping like December fog.

Ruined birthdays, friends sent away, left comforting dolls
with the promise of a future full of soft voices and presents
that were not apologies. When older, she took to practicing piano

in her head, going over her pieces, Chopin, Beethoven,
volume swelling to match the mounting terror of her helplessness.
Tranquility came at last with a place of her own, a room in a creaky

town-house, flowers on the hallstand, a sea-blue poster taped above her bed.
Late-night shouts in the street below could stir the silt of fear that had settled
for life in the pit of her stomach but even this black undertow was stilled by

the cello-drone of his whispering. Splashing in the dazzle of first love how easy
to miss the foul-weather warnings, the seabirds sheltering from the dark clouds
gathering in the comer of his eye.