Sunday, December 6, 2015


She loved him.
She knew that it would be work.
So she glorified.

He made comments about her cooking
her eating
her makeup
her clothes
why she didn't have better hair
where that great ass he fell in love with had gone.

She questioned the late nights
the colleagues
the prescription medications
the alcohol
the overnight trips.
She was met with swift resistance
and being told she was ridiculous.

He joked about whom she texted and called
Then he looked through her phone
to read her emails
and her text messages.
And then he forbid communication
with certain people.
And then he checked her phone every night
to ensure compliance.

She stopped seeing her friends.
She stopped sharing stories with
her neighbors
her best friend
her mom.

She told them to call her
at work

He acted like her orgasm wasn't important,
and then he said it wasn't
and then he stopped pretending he needed consent.

She told herself that it wasn't abuse until he hurt her
until he hit her
until he left a mark
until he put her in the hospital
until he put her in a coma
until he put her in a grave.

He apologized the first time
"baby, I'm so sorry"
the second time
"it won't happen again"
the thirteenth time
"I was just so _____"

Her rock bottom was
the morning her makeup couldn't conceal
the day the bank said their account was empty
the afternoon he threatened to kill himself
the night he almost killed her

when she learned she was pregnant
when she missed her sister's wedding
when she had her jaw wired back into place

She got a lawyer
and she got her life back.

Because, yes, love is work
but it shouldn't damage.


In my final semester of college, I took a poetry class with Maya Angelou. She was generous with her time and talent, and she was a joy to be around.

We studied this poem, among many others, and I find myself returning to it these days, nearly 13 years later.

The Friend
Marge Piercy

We sat across the table.
he said, cut off your hands.
they are always poking at things.
they might touch me.
I said yes.

Food grew cold on the table.
he said, burn your body.
it is not clean and smells like sex.
it rubs my mind sore.
I said yes.

I love you, I said.
That’s very nice, he said
I like to be loved,
that makes me happy.
Have you cut off your hands yet?