The Couple Next Door
Sometimes at night I hear them fight. I think
it's over money. Usually he's drunk. He always wins.
Hits her with some heavy object, I can't tell what.
She cries awhile, then falls silent. A door slams.
This happens about once or twice a week.
I listen intently to all their fights. I blast my radio.
He will hear me. And know that I can hear him too.
My small intrusions. My vague useless gestures.
My rock songs turning violent, bearing futile witness,
battering doors at midnight demanding entry.
What does she do, after he falls asleep?
Perhaps she lies beside him, counting the reasons
not to leave. This time not so bad, no need to see doctor.
Maybe, I cannot go, we are already married.
Or worse - He won't do it again. I know he won't do it
In the mornings, on the way to work, I sometimes see her
in the common corridor. She must know that I know.
Her eyes avoid mine. I let the walls stand.
I will be the stranger who sees and hears nothing.
We may both prefer it that way, I think.
By Gilbert Koh
QLRS Vol. 1 No. 3 Apr 2002