September 17 Marianne

I MADE TO PUNCH HIM. He said, "What an elegant little fist!"
The fiends he bore at his side at all times licked lecherously like flames at my thighs. He took no notice or, if he did, paid no heed. A tiny muscle in my upper-inner spasms at the recollection.

When I met him I had milk, and whereas by all laws that milk should have gone dry by mid July he kept me painfully lactating all the way through mirthless Christmas. I sometimes still scrape stray curds from sore teats.

He hated me. Now in the knowledge of his absence and abandonment there's no mistaking the supercilious sadism of his smile, the occasional equine snort as in disgust his hard, huge head revolved against my reaching gaze. In memory he is always turning away: away from open-handed entreaties for mercy, away from the mute, imploring expression of intimacy. Recalling all the intense-and sometimes injurious-sessions beneath the humiliating philosophy of tiller-and-plow ferocity, reflecting on his abrupt disengagement and instantaneous dismissal, I can't conjure one occasion when I beheld his awful countenance face-to-face. It's a wonder-under all that sinister heft and weight-neither the cradle of my loins nor the crib of my spirit snapped. Actually, on the latter, all the ballots have yet to be counted.

All I see are the waning crescent of the hardened jaw, the loveless expression. And, distinct as horns above the mussed and musty hair, two wispy licks of untamed mane.

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