every time you
tell your daughter
you yell at her
out of love
you teach her to confuse
anger with kindness
which seems like a good idea
till she grows up to
trust men who hurt her
cause they look so much
It wasn’t just that I was leaving,
(For the 2:40 bus. For reasons thick in the air.
For reasons that lived beneath the house.
Forever this time)
It wasn’t just that he said it,
(It was the way he said it.
Standing in the doorway, his mouth a thin
clothesline, eyes like two bloodless sunsets
It wasn’t that I didn’t say it back,
(Couldn’t soothe him one last time.
Wasn’t that girl anymore. Had a bus to catch.
It wasn’t that I didn’t,
(Though I had stopped breathing his name.
Stopped worshipping his mouth.
Didn’t know I still had years
of sweat dreaming in his voice)
It was the way he knew
I would not say it
(Knew I hated him for his weakness.
Knew his heart disgusted me. Knew I had caught
a butterfly only to rub it with my hands.
Remove the resin.
Leave it winged and without flight)