he asked me across the table
with his vast blue eyes

when was the loneliest time of my life

responding without hesitation

it was the last four years of my marriage
to the father of my sons

an eight year incarceration
which would have ended sooner
had any burlington cop with a badge
been willing to listen

wrought with
blood
bruises
choke holds
cigarette smoke and
death threats
for wanting
more than this

and in the end what saved me

was the bottomless ferociousness
a mother possesses
when protecting her children

the pure meanness
a southern woman can muster

in the moment i escaped him
i was all waynesburg kentucky
i was my mother’s daughter
i was an indian woman
protecting what is mine

who survived him
out of steel
and spite