I should’ve realised that we weren’t going to make it
when we were wandering around that big, empty house
out in the countryside one sunny afternoon in June. Your eyes,
those searing blue blowtorch flames, were watching our future
children playing in the garden (a son first, you’d insisted, then a girl).
Your own face was childlike that day, so full of excitement and hope.
You were babbling, saying things like, “Can you see yourself
cooking me dinner in this kitchen?” You were envisioning a future for Us,
one I couldn’t even imagine, let alone see clearly in front of me.

I was terrified of a tiny version of Us growing inside of me
scared of my soon-to-be-assumed role of “wife and mother”
with no time to write / no room to breathe / no space to be
internally screaming at the prospect of relentless mortgage payments
panicking that our babies might inherit my sadness / madness / nose
worrying about hypothetical meals being served on time
and accidentally murdering my orchids
and forgetting to pick the kids up from school
and never getting used to the absence of silence

I was frightened that I’d feel stuck
in a life that wasn’t truly mine
but reasoned that it’d be fine
because I’d be stuck to you.

Later, when I explored the top floor alone, I quietly considered
which room I could end my life in if I chose to, assessing
which fixtures I could potentially hang from and wondering
what the freestanding bathtub would look like with red water
spilling over its edges. “At least the crimson flood of my blood
will complement the nursery, which we are going to paint lemon yellow.”

Originally published at Sledgehammer Lit: https://www.sledgehammerlit.com/post/terrified-by-hlr


  1. This poem has so much bite to it, I almost couldn’t finish reading it. It’s incredible and will sit with me for a long time to come. Superb work!

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