He would look at me and instantly, it was like I felt his hands wrapped around my neck
silence forced by constriction that no one else could see —
or could you?
Don’t talk, shut that mouth
Ain’t nobody care about what you think you got say
With one look I felt my lip split and my heart bled on the floor
but no one could see —
or could you?
Rattling the bars of my invisible cage, reaching my hand through
calling to those outside my walls
With one gesture I felt my feet become bolted to the floor
and a heavy thunderous blow like steel to the back of my head
still no one could see the violence of my trembling —
or did you?
Quiet, shy, introverted, nervous, reserved almost to excess
This what he told you
and this is what you chose to believe
As I sat stiffly trying to hide the pain from the metal bar that insatiably impacted me
Long sleeves and high necks in warm weather to hide the cuts and bruises
the choke marks on my neck
Hair pulled back, off to the side to conceal the small bald spots where his hands ripped out small clumps of hair
Always concentrating on the floor, an empty chair, a barren wall
so I wouldn’t make eye contact, so I wouldn’t invite unapproved conversation
With one furl of his brow I felt my voice stolen from my chest
torn to shreds and cast aside,
and a distinct sting of an open-handed slap leaving behind bands of welts on my face
perfectly sized to the width of the jack hammers on his hands.
The red marks screaming out to you
that you couldn’t hear —
or could you?
Did you notice my absence
my silence when I was present
the melancholy, the sadness
the invisible cloud cover that preceded me?
The decay of his appearance
the increase is his erratic behavior
his control over me —
his possession, his toy he only wanted to break —
Did you notice the fight against his will tiring me out
Could you feel the tension after he disappeared but remained at home waiting for me to return?
The hesitancy to talk?
The concentration on the clock?
The rushing out to answer the phone?
Begging to be brought home —
couldn’t be late no matter what the cost,
punished brutally for not leaving immediately —
The longer I waited for you the more the impact of the door frame against my head hounded me
Could you see my fear?
Could you feel my discomfort?
How could you not see
my life falling apart
the breaking of my heart
my being cast aside and treaded upon?
Or did you choose to ignore
the desperation burning in my eyes,
the onset of panic attacks,
my becoming nervous and irritable?
I don’t understand how you could not see
a slow gait
the black eye
Or did you simply look away?
Every time I see you
Every word you speak
Every time you reach out
He is going to be all I can see.