in the trenches of the quintessential fight for the right to sit at the dinner table, in the tradition of war, heralded by the women of my family,
every declaration of love ignites a call to arms, every conversation is a battle. the war is on two fronts, in my mind i want to protest the endless pointlessness
i wave my white flag. with flowers in my hair, i throw up peace signs, aggressive in my pacifism. i want a ceasefire. i want a love without protestation. i want a treaty that promises a silence on all ends.
my mother is a fierce general who does not know how to retire. her every breath is a provocation. i desert her army. i know i can’t conquer her.
my hunger strike goes unnoticed. when i can no longer starve myself, i starve her of me. i dishonorably discharge myself from her service
i walk away from this love with no honors, my sacrifice wrapped in camouflage, my heart scarred. i am protester and proactive accomplice at once.
but when i wake to sunlight coming in through gauzy curtains, spilling delicately on my hardwood floors, the fading scent of a reed diffuser bringing invisible blossoms to dance in the air
my bare feet are rough and ugly in the carpet, with chipped nail polish on my toes. a chipped mug waits for me on the counter, staying alone to attention,
and the house is quiet around me, and nothing is broken nothing aches, anymore, like it used to
i know i have lived to fight another day.
Thea Nikolova is a writer and academic based in North East England, currently working in news and media, and due to start a PhD in English Literary Studies in October 2020. She has BA in English language and creative writing from Lancaster University, where she frequently performed her poetry, and an MA in English Literature from Durham University. Her work has appeared in Cake Literary Journal and the Stonecoast Review, while her academic writing has been recognized at multiple conferences. Her poetry explores themes of womanhood and identity in a global world.