Argument in the Snow

Revision:

You were mad,
like you often are, your anger seeping out
through the heating vents, offering continuous prickly warmth.
Your anger was overtaking you, as it often does.
I had thought calling Mom to pick us up wouldn’t cause an argument,
but then you insulted her and stepdad got on the line
to ask you to be respectful to his new wife, wouldn’t you want that for your wife.
So you reported him to the police
because he was threatening you, you said.

You didn’t help Mom carry our suitcases to her car
and she slipped in the snow.
I stood by the trunk, waiting for the tingling in my hands to stop,
waiting for my tears to drip onto the ice and freeze. I wanted you to stop
screaming, to see me crying, but I hid behind the car, gripping the bumper.

And the next time I came over you said “Fuck you”
to my Mom and gave us a repetitive lecture on respect.
You never hit us, never reprimanded by touch,
but your anger was enough. If you had been able to manage your anger
for once, if you had listened to the pleas in my head to stop screaming,
if you hadn’t cursed so violently
I might not have wanted to melt into the ground, underneath
the ice and snow, the cold asphalt and frozen-packed soil
that I could’ve found if I dug long enough.

***

10-4-10
by Marlena Chertock

The ice wouldn’t have been so bad
if Mom hadn’t slipped,
if my sister didn’t get her pants wet
in the snow, causing amplified aggravation and
her raspy crying to be more understood
for an outsider. If you had helped Mom
carry our suitcases to the car, if your anger
wasn’t so pressing and hot, making a mocking metaphor
in the soft snow, it wouldn’t have been so bad,
if you had ceased thinking about
yourself and opened your ears to someone else

I would have told you to stop, but I was so
confused by how slow time was
moving and the bitter air not seeming to reach
my feverous cheeks. I had thought calling Mom
to come get us couldn’t cause any arguments or disagreement,
there’s always one about who will drive us back,
but then you insulted her and stepdad
got on the line to ask you to be respectful to his new wife,
wouldn’t you want that for your wife.
After your “Fuck you” you gave us a repetitive lecture on
respect. Anger always drags more people
and experiences into things, I think.
Because if you hadn’t cursed so violently and diversely, I might not have
wanted to melt into the ground, underneath
the ice and snow, the cold asphalt and frozen-packed soil
that I could’ve found if I dug long enough.
I might not have felt the shiver of
sadness for months afterwards.

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