“All The Soap” by Judith Staff
Inhaling each bottle’s scent in the shower,
Hoping there’s some I might bear
Lingering in my hair and on my skin
For the day.
“The soap smells”
I complain, quietly
“Which soap, darling?” he gently asks
“All the soap. Everywhere.”
I feel a little sick.
Flinching at my son’s voice
I remind him to whisper
Because his pubescent tones
Thunder in the depths of my psyche.
I make a slice of toast I don’t want.
In the living room, a child shouts
Their sibling discord closes my throat,
Stealing the nourishment away
I spit the toast out, letting the rest go cold.
The grocery store: a minefield
All my senses are in overdrive
I can do this today.
Can’t I? Or can I?
A man leans lazily over the front of his trolley
And idly drums his large fingers on a plastic lid
Inside, I scream as the deafening rhythm paralyses my bones
Escaping the aisle, I forget what I needed
The constant adrenaline exhausts me.
Another store, to look for a dress
Trying to concentrate on the rack
Thumbing hangers, not seeing the clothes
A woman shopping nearby steps closer
She doesn’t notice me, but she’s. Too. Close.
I feel trapped now with no way out
“Breathe, just try to breathe”
Then a store announcement,
“Phone call for Zoe, line 1 please”
Startled, rattled, frozen
I need to go right now.
Memory halted; then –
Collapsing into the car
Shutting the car-door
I use the tranquil silence
To fill my starving lungs.