Standing fully erect,
Face hooded by shadows cast from the sooty fireplace
Which sheds forth a dingy, ruddy light
Filling the room with a thick, sulfurous glow,
With clenched hands firmly grafted to the table,
He regards her crouched form with daunting fury.
His arrogant eyes, like mailed fists,
Batter her senses,
Piercing her with icy daggers of fear.
How she trembles at that terrible gaze,
The wrath of the gale which scatters her wits
And dissipates her resolve.
He assails her in contemptuous tones,
Leering, condescending,
     Know thy place, woman, for thou art weak and foolish!
His words deluge upon her in venomous shards,
A dissonant chorus of derision and scorn.
Silenced by his vituperation,
Her eyes retreat from his menacing stare
To rest, defeated, upon the rough-hewn length of the hard oak table.
As the tempest continues, her breath falters,
Shallow, irregular gasps swelling into sobs
As tears burst forth in unbridled abandon.
Her wounded spirit conquered,
Not for the first time, by his unyielding might,
She flees weeping to her room and slams the door behind her.
Amused, smugly gloating upon his victory,
His confidence fortified by her fearful submission,
He smiles.

Standing fully erect,
Unmasked in the glow of a fluorescent overhead light fixture
Which spreads a tranquil luminance evenly throughout the dining room,
The same hardened fists resounding upon the veneer of the dinner table,
He turns his rage upon her reclining form.
His furious gaze bears down upon her brow
And she meets it with a stare of exquisite coldness,
Her hardened grey eyes holding fast with steely defiance.
With Neptune's hot fury, he raves at her,
Storms of accusations and injunctions.
She flushes in indignation at his threats and ultimatums,
Furrowing her brow at his insolent, haughty pronouncements.
     How dare you take that arrogant tone with me!
     You're not my father, and I'm not your keep!
     Your harsh abuse I will not tolerate;
     I'll find another man with which to sleep!

Stunned, he gazes upon her with a strange mixture of rage and confusion.
Her eyes underscore her words in icy points,
And he shakes with the force of her resistance.
The tempest turns upon him and rages inward;
With a snarl of frustration, he storms out of her apartment
Into the damp, rain-splattered streets.
Thoughtfully, she watches him depart.
     Well, that's that. she says.
I smile.

George Chadderdon © 1993