And if I were to tell you that all of this is true, would you believe me?
When the First One’s fist
smashed my eye and broke
the bone below it, all I saw
was white light
and then, red.
When I met you, the First One
was lurking still in the shadows.
This is meant to be sinister. I had
the broken eyebone and bruised ribs
to prove it. The untangling was taking
a while. The First One proved to have
unlimited rope which he kept looping
around anything available – a forgotten
ankle, a stray arm. I kept finding myself,
figuratively, on the floor, face in the dirt.
Justice has no power over invisible ties. I
had to find the magic scissors, learn
to keep cutting when the rope retied itself
like birthday candles relighting or stars
appearing and disappearing on a cloudy
night. Somewhere I’d taken the time to write
what I expected the next time, should there be
a next time, on paper. In black and white (actually,
it was a yellow legal pad) I figured what I wanted
would be less elusive. You arrived just after
the bruising faded to pale green, enough
for successful makeup disguise. The paper
stayed in a drawer. It was too soon. I wanted
to play. Told you. You said, “Fine.” I noticed how
your eyes crinkled at the corner, how long
your lashes are, how your hands fit my waist
as though made from the same mold.
The night dispatcher at the police station got to know
my voice. So the evening I ran to the Magistrate’s window
with protective order in hand, First One in hot pursuit,
she, the night dispatcher, located across a large lobby floor,
called in on-duty officers. The Magistrate noted,
it being Friday at 5pm, the whole thing was not his
problem, told me “Take it to court Monday.” In the back
of my mind I starting adding up how many minutes
that might make. The officers arrived but could not arrest
First One because the order to do so was currently in
another county. Still, they held him ‘til I could get
in the car and drive away. On the way out, I bumped
my head against the glass door and saw stars.
In the back of a bar located in Southeast DC
I sat, surrounded on 3 sides by high, protective
but crumbling brick walls. I was writing poetry
on a glass topped table and sipping my third
wine. In less than an hour. By the time you
appeared my stomach was queasy from heat
and unshed tears. Overhead the stars shone.
Passing traffic was muffled but audible. A
cricket sang halfway up the ivy covered
crumbling brick wall and I wondered if it might
rain. We had not yet made love. Convention
called for pulling myself together but my body
demanded otherwise so you walked me around
the block, stood over me while I stuck my finger
down my throat and puked, held on tight while
I sobbed with my wet mouth and wetter eyes
against the fresh smell of your shirt.
In the basement of your brother’s house
we made love. My house was being watched.
This is meant to be sinister. Your house
contained a mother and father. You are 21.
I am 35. The room is lit with three candles.
It is June. There is no air conditioning but
there is a small square box fan on the floor.
I don’t remember the color of the walls. I
remember your hands, how they knew all the
secret spaces; your mouth, how well it fit mine;
the air, full of wetness getting wetter; how
you stroked me afterwards until we both
went to sleep. In my dream there was a moon
and hundreds upon thousands of stars.
We are sitting in Sizzler’s Steak House. Public
spaces are always less volatile. A lesson learned
from the First One. Outside the sun is merciless,
so, of course, there are no stars. This is about one
of the two children that came along with me. A package,
I told you. You said, “Fine.” Over salad and shrimp, I
hissed, “If you can’t help me, just do no harm. Get out
of my way. If you can’t do that, then get out of my
life.” I still had the magic scissors. This is meant
to be sinister. I knew exactly where to cut.
There are all kinds of rope. Some trips. Some
binds. But some hangs loosely. glimmering like
spider silk hung with morning dew, as ordered as
a small universe, angles just so. No chafing. No-
thing rubbed raw. Soft. Like the satin on a baby’s
blanket, or the fine hairs at the nape of your neck.
Ropes that mark safe boundaries. Ties that connect
earth to sky, keep planets and stars in proper places.
In my hands the scissors turn to fireflies that escape
into the dark and cloudy night sky.