I cannot remember all the times he hit me.
I might could count black eyes,
how many times I said I ran into doors
or fell down or stepped into the path
of any flying object except his fist.
Once I got a black eye playing softball.
The rest were him. Seven, eight.
I can name what of me he broke:
my nose, my arm, and four ribs
in the course of six years’ marriage.
The ribs were after I said divorce
and in spite of a peace bond.
I spent the night in the hospital.
He did not even spend a night in jail.
The sheriff I helped elect does not
apply the law to family business.
He always swore he never meant to do it.
I do believe he never planned.
It was always just the day,
the way I looked at him afraid.
Maybe the first time he did not mean to do it,
maybe the broken ribs were for good luck.
I want to post this in ladies rooms,
write it on the tags of women’s underwear,
write it on coupons to go in Tampax packages
because my ex-husband will want to marry again
and there is no tattoo where he can’t see it
to tell the next woman who might fall in love with him.
After six months, maybe a year,
he will start with a slap you can brush off.
Leave when he slaps you.
When he begins to call you cunt and whore
and threatens to kill you if you try to go
it will almost be like teasing but it is not.
Keep two sets of car keys for yourself.
Take your children with you when you go.
If he is throwing things, he is drinking.
If he is drunk enough he cannot catch you.
A punch in the breast hurts worse than a punch in the jaw.
A hit with an object does more damage than a hit with a fist
unless he is so drunk he picks up a broom instead of a poker.
If you pick up the poker, he will try to get it.
If he gets it, he will hit you with it.
He probably will not kill you because you will pass out
and then, he is all the sudden sorry and he stops.
When he says he will not hit you again
as he drives you to the hospital,
both of you in tears and you in pain,
you have stayed much too long already.
Tell the people at the hospital the truth
no matter how much you think you love him.
Do not say you fell down stairs
no matter how much he swears he loves you.
He does love you, he loves you hurt
and he will hit you again.
One day, he’s going to know. He’ll know your birthday, your middle name, where you were born, your star sign, and your parent’s names. He’ll know how old you were when you learned to ride a bike, how your grandparents passed away, how many pets you had, and how much you hated going to school. He’ll know your eye color, your scars, your freckles, your laugh lines and your birthmarks. He’ll know your favorite book, movie, candy, food, pair of shoes, color, and song. He’s going to know why you’re awake at 5am most nights, where you were when you realized you’d lost a good friend, why you picked up the razor and how you managed to put it down before things went too far. He’s going to know your phobias, your dreams, your fears, your wishes, and your worries. He’s going to know about your first heartbreak, your dream wedding, and your problems with your parents. He’ll know your strengths, weaknesses, laziness, energy, and your mixed emotions. He’s going to know about your love for mayonnaise, your dream of being famous when you were five, your need to quote any film you know all the way through, and your fear of growing older. He’ll know your bad habits, your mannerisms, your stroppy pout, your facial expressions, and your laugh like it’s his favorite song. The way you chew, drink, walk, sleep, fidget and kiss. He’s going to know that you’ve already picked out wedding flowers, baby names, tiles for the bathroom, bridesmaid dresses, and the color of your bedroom walls. He’s going to know, get annoyed at and then accept that you leave clothes everywhere, take twenty minutes to order a Starbucks, have to organize your DVD’s alphabetically, and check your horoscope… just incase. He’ll know your McDonald’s order, how many sugars to put in your tea, how many scoops of ice cream you want, and that you need your sandwiches cut into triangles. He’s going to know how you feel without you telling him, that you need a wee from a look on your face, and that you’re crying without shedding tears. He’s going to know all of it. Everything. You, from top to bottom and inside out. From learning, from sharing, from listening, from watching. He’s going to know every single thing there is to know about you, and you know what else? He is still going to love you.