That fall, we pitched
a tent in Montana bear country
for two weeks.
Every night, whether we made love
or not, you slipped your rifle
between our bodies.
I dreamed of bear paws—awkward
as children’s hands, innocent-looking
as they swiped open my skull—
and woke, face pressed to the gun’s
steel snout, warm as our skin
You were sober mostly that trip,
didn’t even stagger as you hoisted
our cooler up a tree to safety.
But I had already seen you
reeking and fiery enough to fracture
furniture with just your hands
or to crater the walls
with the pointed toes
of your best boots.
I had held you when booze
was a sudden blow
to your head
and you fell asleep mid-sob,
your hard body gone
flaccid in my arms.
Afternoons in Montana,
you fished downstream a ways,
while I lay naked on a flat boulder
in the middle of the river.
On all sides poured water:
a constant, diminishing caress.
In honor of International Day for the Elimination of Violence against Women, this selection comes from the poetry collection, Bright Stain, available from Red Hen Press. Purchase your copy here! Our curator for this selection is Nilsa Rivera.
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