The man on top of my mother waits for her
Now that he’s captured her he’s thrilling
The woman under him is guilty, mutable, he gets to judge
he knows she’ll use it when his grip loosens.
and pigeon and lark, blackening out the hours
to press a woman’s face into the hardwood floor,
He knows the body can become its own enemy.
they’ve tried on each other’s skin,
They stumbled home, those nights, tearing away
And that’s what it takes, memory of her skin,
he’s become. He walks, calm, into the kitchen.
My mother runs even before she’s upright,
pulling up her pants, over the lawn,
saying help in a voice she does not recognize.
Behind her, her lover opens the door, the shotgun still in hand.
But a car of women stops, my mother is rescued.
to let her go; it helps her believe he’s sorry,
Days later, she’s climbing on top of him
she is beautiful, hoping this will heal her. The man moves
except when he’s calling her name
Each detail belongs to me, my easel—this is how the artist thinks.
On every canvas, he punishes her form. In this frame,
But that doesn’t stop my mother, buried in the model’s
to plait their pain with resonance. I never paint
thinking, Now I am her conqueror, now I am painting
Why must it always be raining, why is he cruel? Can’t the artist
why not brushing a leaf off of her dress? Why does every woman
The dress: will she burn it or bury it,
Sunday morning, the arena full.
In her red suit, my mother is all sequined curtain-shine.
You don’t have the guts to pull the trigger, I’ve seen your mouth
I want to say, but all I manage is a mangled, Be careful.
My mother does not blink. She is the mouth
I want to die, she says, holding her stomach.
and wait for it to happen: the blood washing over me