Staying

I am 5
Alone in the doll aisle
All hair factory blond
All eyes marble blue
Aryan plastic babies
I feel someone behind me.
I stare at the manufactured children
Their unblinking eyes my silent witnesses
Do I stay or do I run?
I can’t find the exit sign.
I stay.

I am 7
Alone in my Pepto-Bismol pink bedroom.
It is dark, but about to get a whole lot darker.
A shadowy figure looming in the doorway
I will remember loose, red sweatpants
And the pattern on my quilt
Do I stay or do I run?
There is no exit sign.
I stay.

I am 30
Sitting on my king-sized bed on a Saturday afternoon
The grey sheets a tangled mess
The confession’s been made
Two shall become one became three, four, five…
I lost count at six.
Like a fist to the womb
My stomach instinctively empties itself.
Do I stay or do I run?
My children are blocking the exit sign.
I stay.

I am 40
One steel blue suitcase stands alone by the front door
It was part of a set.
The taxi door slams outside
He picks up the suitcase with a tightly clenched fist
For the last time I hear the front door slam shut
He found the exit sign.
He ran and I stayed.
I always stayed.

Bronwyn Berg is a poet, writer, student and single mother. She was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta, and had her first poem published at the age of ten. She currently resides in Kelowna, British Columbia, where she is pursuing a degree in Creative Writing from the University of British Columbia.

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