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The Tie That Binds

by Susan Paurazas

The strands weave together,

criss-cross, form a mesh

that holds her to him.

Strands, memories

of happier times, now

a frayed, worn tapestry.

If she loves him enough,

will the frayed ends meet

or loosen and twirl away,

splitting the sheath

in two, fade and yellow

like the bruises on her arms?

The yarn tightens and twists

each time he drinks,

or things don't work out

as he expected.

She takes the blame,

and apologizes, because

she knows she can't win.

Rope tangle into

traps that squeeze and cut,

deep into flesh, burning

through, until she offers

forgiveness, tears and blood.

No reason is given,

a bad day at work,

dinner's late, stocks are down.

If she tries to unwind,

it only gets worse,

the next time he thinks,

she deserves it.

"Sorry, baby," he says,

"you know I love you.

I promise it won't happen again."

She nods a reply, curled up

on the kitchen floor,

hears the baby cry

in the other room.

He weaves those worn threads

of regret and remorse.

Loops words and promises

in and out, around her mind

and heart again. Under and over,

they surround, intertwine,

make her dizzy and faint,

until she can't breathe.

Is it love, fear or hate

she feels? She doesn't know.

She forgot how to feel.

Emotions betray, she's left

silent and numb, wrapped

in the shroud that he's woven.

Only a tiny spark remains

in the back of her mind,

behind purple, puffy eyes.

She must decide to blow it out,

or ignite it, make the fire burn

into cleansing inferno,

a scorching purge.

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