When a man threw his fist into a wall next to my eye
I said that was love, that love was rage.
I was in the habit of loving anyone who laid a cold hand
on my face and said he’d pray for me.
Or anyone who prays. I thought apology
was love and so I loved to hear a man say sorry.
I loved to forgive because it meant I was a goddess. I forgave
because he couldn’t possibly forgive himself.
There’s a demon inside me, he said. Who cares if it’s a demon
when it is mine and I am greedy for it. No, there isn’t, and
I don’t care, do you hear me?—I’d say, and greed seemed to river
through my body. Even years later I could not speak of men
and their violence because I wanted to believe, yes,
in such a thing as decency in men I loved. That my love
was decent. All the men who wanted me beautiful,
wanted me thin, wanted me with short hair, wanted me less
smart, wanted me, wanted me not, wanted me with pink
cheeks, wanted the best for me, wanted me in ruffled
skirts, wanted me naked, wanted me dead, all the men
who wanted me, men who wanted, men who are
gone, not gone enough.