It Took A Second For Her To Fall In Love. It Took 2 Years For Her to Stand Back Up.

Erica Williams Simon

We've all heard the horrifying statistics about domestic violence: According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, one in four women over the age of 18 has experienced domestic violence, and nearly half of all women have experienced severe psychological aggression by an intimate partner.

But the statistics don't tell you what it actually feels like. Those stats can't possibly convey the agony, fear, disbelief, and confusion that comes from being abused by someone you love and trust. That's what poetry is good for.

Girl at door: Hey!

Lucy: Hey!

Girl at door: You ready? What if he comes?

Lucy: It doesn't matter.

Girl at door: All right. Lets do it.

Speaker: OK, up next we have a perform we haven't seen in a while. Everyone give a warm welcome to Lucy. I'm glad your here.

Lucy: Thank you. Hi, everyone. I'm Lucy and the title of this piece is [interrupted], the title of this piece is "MINE".

People make a big deal about eyes
but it was really the wrinkle in his forehead that caught me
as he fumbled to write down his number.

We fell in love like children running downhill:
wind whipping past, parading each other to our friends,
to the sky, to the old couples we imagined as our future selves.

When he moved in, I swore he fused with the house.
I could hear his sigh in the hum of my ceiling fan
I could taste him in my coffee
And anyone could see him in my poetry.

The grooves in his palm spoke of tragedies.
A frayed lifeline spread to the pinky-tip
I traced along those calloused patches
and kissed the scars on his knuckles

When you love hard enough, you can embrace those scars
And when you love long enough you excuse or even ignore
almost imperceptible changes in the terrain:
when he gripped me a bit tighter a bit more often
when “how are you?” became “where were you?”

In college I learned that in World War I,
soldiers rarely wrote about their misery.
They were living a new kind of nightmare,
so what good were the same old words and metaphors?

Poets died in those trenches.
I thought of them as I tiptoed
around the landmines that littered our home.
When you live in a battlefield,
where do you find energy to pick up a pen?

Like a numbed soldier I lived from moment to moment,
and when the moments were sweet
(and many were) I savored them
Because nothing tastes as good as hope

Because even on the bad days
when it seemed an eyelash could set him off
when he threatened to leave the apartment or this world
still each night he would murmur into my ear
that these were the natural ups and downs of love.

But there is nothing natural about war.
He was my comrade, sinking into the trenches,
grasping at my face, my arm, my collar bone
I wanted to rescue him
If that meant bearing his blows
and his slurred insults, I would do it
If I could’ve swallowed his sadness, I would have.

My friends considered me M.I.A., but I reported for duty every day
and would’ve marched unto death if she hadn’t made me listen.
In that moment I realized I wasn’t his comrade but a prisoner of his war
And after two years and seven months, I finally made a break for it.

Some nights I find myself clicking through old memories.
I marvel at the smiles and the closeness
and realize that these are the images
which remain with me most vividly.
When time has had its way with me,
has softened the edges of my memory,
I’m afraid I’ll only remember his charms:
the crook of his arm, the way he said “hey baby.”
I’m afraid I’ll miss these ideas of him.

But then I remember those poets
and how long they lived in those trenches
and the mornings I spent crying into my breakfast
And now when I pick up my pen
it is heavy, but it is firm.
I lean into it like a staff as I tread the ground
that hardened beneath me the moment I let you go.
The ink smudges my hands like war paint
I am bruised from battle, but I am not a casualty of his war
I am free. I am free. I am mine.

There may be small errors in this transcript.

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