Friday, 6 November 2020


Under the guise of nonchalance,

she quickly resets her bones,

stitches her gaping wounds

and paints a smile on her face.


It is imperative he sees her smile.  

That smile,

that smile of gratitude, of humility,

that smile of acceptance,

that smile of knowing her place in his world.   


that tiny space, forever closing in.


She sets the table.

(He will be home soon.)

(He is home now.)


She plates the dinner; it must be set so precisely.

The meat from nine to three o’clock,

the potatoes, mashed (absolutely no lumps)

milked and buttered at three to six

and the rest of time filled with peas

(garden) buttered and counted –

their numbers must be even,

God they must be even!


The gravy,   shimmering with meat juices,

just the right thickness fills two thirds of the boat. 

(Perfect she thinks and feels the excitement the joy of success,

of doing the right things for her man).

(He will be pleased; of this she is (almost) certain...)


He sits, glares at her, his mouth a snarl,

her smile momentarily drops but she quickly resets it;

nervous now, hands shaking, chest near imploding…

she waits…


He trawls the plate with his fork,

searching for desired imperfections…

he is counting the peas,

looks up with that look in his eyes

and his fists hammer down on the table. 

(God the pea count is wrong,

the pea count is wrong, the pea count is wrong!)


He explodes in a fury, his fists battle her body

and battered and bruised she drops to the floor. 

YOU’RE FECKING USELESS! (he screeches),

slapping that smile off  her face, kicking her foetal-curled body,

and he turns on his feet, shouts obscenities, storms out of the room,

slamming the door behind him.  She cries…


She composes herself, resets her bones,

stitches her wounds, paints on her smile,

huddles in her tiny space, her ever so tiny space,  

disappearing (as she is)

in ever decreasing circles…


Anna  :o]

Written for  – cheers for the prompt Rommy!

(I can't figure out how to do links on New Blogger so will have to try and get my head round it...)

Image (the nearest I could find):  Courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons  - 'Photo © Acabashi'  ‘Steak and ale pie at Sainsbury's Low Hall, Chingford, London


Cressida de Nova said...

Amazing depiction of living with a psychopath.... I will read this poem a few times...Excellent work

Helen said...

With each line my anxiety increased ~~ as did hers. A stunning poem ....

Jenna said...

I agree with Helen.

Rosemary Nissen-Wade said...

Wow! A brilliant depiction. I only wish it wasn't so widely true.

Magaly Guerrero said...

I can feel her fear so deeply, the same goes for her sense of survival. Some might think her a coward, might even call her weak. But they would be wrong. It takes a special kind of soul to survive that hell. And for some reason, maybe because she has find a place to be herself (regardless of how small it is), I feel that she might be able to liberate herself. Someone who has the strength to keep a monster like that from ripping her head off also has the strength to claim her freedom.

Jim said...

I'm with Magaly, no woman or child should ever be subject to this. ALL the men should be "fixed" (lest they reproduce) and incarcerated until and if they are cured.

Jae Rose said...

Your poem manages to convey such a terrible issue with much dignity - it is sad how our spaces become smaller and smaller..and we may well accept it rather than breaking out

ADDY said...

That is so vivid. You quickly realise what is coming and you hope it won't. The tension is amazing.

Rommy said...

The way you recounted the details was masterfully done. You created the tight and brittle tension and had the reader steeling themselves for the blow we knew was coming from the start. Horrifyingly real. said...

This is excellent, Anna! I felt the tension in my bones.

Priscilla King said...

Believable...though on reflection, are maniacs like him sober enough to count their peas?! Or is it part of the plot that he's not actually counting the peas but just picking a fight?