It isn’t always fists pounding and bruises blossoming along the delicate cheekbones that caught you such a man. It’s not always the snap and the thud of a thousand soldiers’ boots running up and down your thighs. Not always a painting that he makes with your blood under your skin. He doesn’t have to be a drunk or a druggie. He doesn’t even have to touch you to grab you by your esophagus and wrench you forward, to your knees, on the floor.

The painter blots your inadequacies in purple, green and brown. But words can break your blood just as beautifully. Cue the chameleon. Transformed before your wondering eyes into everything you never knew you needed. He doesn’t change your colours, he changes his own and he paints your world magnificent. He has the softest hands. He never drinks.

His words are music. Each note gets sweeter by the second until you’re swept into a vat of honey, licking your lips. You keep him secret from other jealous, prying eyes. He’s a jewel that fell into your lap; of course they’d think it’s too good to be true. He gently corrects your wrongs. You’re a better person with him around.

Swept into a vat of honey, the first time you fight with him your teeth are glued together. You move too slowly.  Your hair is stuck to your cheek. If he says you’re wrong then you’re wrong, of course.

A wedding ring tight around your finger and him, tightening like a boa around one of your eardrums. The music is all wrong but it sounds like something you’ve heard before and maybe this is the music he used to sing and what he meant was and his Father used to beat him and look at his limp         hands he wouldn’t raise a hand to you of course and why         would you be afraid and or             scared question mark and you’re stupid and isn’t                he right you have no idea what you’re talking about question m and are we still fighting and please i love y and don’t walk out and i messed                 of course up and i’m please sorry           and and you’re right and lets                 talk and i’ll just                of course                   listen
and nodding is the easier way to and please and i know i’m
not                    wrong
but and thank god of course thank god it’s over and is it over question mark—

Yourself flickers like the gaslights — metal with a tiny flame inside. One little breath from him could put you out. Your children watch your feeble flittering.

Gas-and-light. He pours the gasoline in a spiral around you: ever inward and then he anoints you with it. He smiles and wipes some honey from your cheek. Then he lights you up. He never smoked a cigarette in his life, but you watch as he breathes you in without even the gentlest cough.

Yourself, ashes, and honey he has you by your esophagus, wrenched forward, on your knees, on the floor. Without putting a finger on you.

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