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Her face reminded me of a parachute
that opened too late. A confusion
of color crumpled in mid-flight,
a near-fatal crash.
Bruised lips, swollen jaw,
red stains where the whites
of her eyes should be.
I suppose there was so much more
that the deep soul brown
of her skin was concealing.
The most scathing moments
leading to this dawn wrote
apocalyptic scriptures on her
blood as she walked under the E.R.
hallway’s fluorescent light.

She flickered, and I half
expected her heart to disengage
from her body any minute.
But she crossed the threshold
biting back the winter cold
like her will had overridden
her senses and the switch
had failed, of when she was
supposed to realize it was
safe to put her guard down.
Like when a cornered innocence
had somehow clawed a path
away from the corner, but
isn’t quite sure,
and still sees the image of
its would-have-been captor
everywhere it looked.

It was just hours ago
when the world flipped on her
and three years’ worth of trust
had added up to less than nothing:
the strength of his arms on which
she had lain her head to dream
had short-circuited with the fury
in his fists and didn’t care
where they landed.

Her will was fluid, now
and leaking from the air
around her as she made her way
to where I stood, ready to give
her an embrace which I feared
would be empty, unsure
of which hurt I should
first be speaking to.
Which was lightning, and
which was thunder?
Was it the jagged ache
swinging like a pendulum
inside her flesh, that fell first,
followed by the acid blast
of being betrayed,
or the other way around?
Did they happen within seconds
of each other, like a volley
of bullets from the same gun,
ripping apart what used
to be so sacred?

I put up my arms, but only
to relieve her tired hands
of the sheaf of papers,
CAT Scan results and
medical certificates that
were quite possibly the only
thing solid on her whole person.
I promised to keep them safe
until I could take her to the
police station in the morning
to file them as evidence.

I looked at her instead,
at the shape of the survival
she was keeping upright
with sheer will. It was fueled,
and pure; but how close to
breaking, I wasn’t so sure.

Image from “Zoë Kravitz over Politiek,
Roem en Racisme in Hollywood”

by photographer Matt Jones


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