A splash of icy water –
first personal assault
on an adopted persona –
marked each day’s start.

With military precision
the lie, perpetuated since
childhood, was carried out –
a ritualized euthanization.

Starched collar, tightly
knotted tie (hangman’s
accomplice), solidified
the tortured charade.

A stray, unyielding curl
atop neatly cropped hair –
lonely vestige – belied
the woman locked within.

Stiff comportment channelled
inner rage, buried beneath
driven pursuit of monetary
success professing normalcy.

Behind the mask, a gentler
soul watched, agonizingly
lonely – abandoned authenticity
imprisoned, denied expression.

Alcohol, sought to numb twisted
reality – exacerbated tensions,
propelled acts of violence, drowned
unwitting co-conspirators, diminished

hope – no viable solution – society
uncompromising – fantasies of death –
swift release – defined behaviours,
created a legacy, a prayer adopted

by a child left behind, incapacitated
by father’s anguish,  smothered
by ashes of incredulous tragedy,
awaiting the phoenix’s rising.