You keep a baseball bat in the trunk of your car,
A Honda, a practical maroon mess you bought from
Your parents on a payment plan,
A young woman needs her own car,
They say, and you mainly agree.
It’s summer. It’s a new city rising up from
The asphalt. You live near a smart-kids college
And the city is already swallowing you whole:
Drugs fly around the campus, buses kick exhaust
Into your face as you skateboard to work,
To save domestic violence survivors by putting them
Into blank-walled, anonymous shelters.
Everyone said you could do this, that you’d be great.
You meet a nice young man. He has clothes
With structured collars. You convince yourself
You belong together and sometimes you sit on
His front steps smoking cigarettes between juniper bushes,
Which smell like good gin, and you feel the sun too
Hot on the part of your yellow hair but it’s a good
Sort of pain. You sort of fall in love.
Then one night (always at night) a peeping Tom
Creeps to your window, face to glass, and now
You are forced to see yourself the way he saw you,
Objectively. Round thighs, soft belly, exposed, happy, against
The sunshine yellow of the bedroom walls.
Now you sleep in your clothes with the baseball bat
Next to you. Your dog is jumpy. The window breaks
The next week, and now you sleep with your cell
Phone in your hand, barely touching down into dreams,
Quietly whimpering yourself to submission.
In the morning you save, save those women.
They come in with pregnancy tests in crinkly
Fred Meyers bags, the plus sign, faded. You tell
Them No, I believe you, I believe you.
How many times do you have to tell them,
No, you don’t understand,
I’m on your side.