portion of Ronnie K. Stephens' artwork

Ronnie K. Stephens

She was the kind of girl who practiced
watering her eyes in the mirror. Who
cradled bottles of Drano like the bastard
son she never meant to survive. Who
wore sleeveless shirts sometimes
displaying well-rehearsed suicide notes.

When her car abandoned the road for a ditch,
she cursed the seatbelt. She cursed the barrel rolls
and the oak tree for their mercy. Poison did not sit well
in her gut, so she stopped stocking her cabinets
with cleaning supplies. Boys professed their love often.

For one, she drew the letter “A” with spilled vodka
in a basement bar. For another, she ran headlong
into a support beam and poured her limp body
into the river below.

But her love, and with it the permission to touch her,
was reserved for the husband who raped her,
who fucked her bloody when she couldn't get wet.

She was never the kind of girl called princess
by her father. She was the kind of girl who cut highways
with a butter knife, swallowed sleeping pills
in her best friend’s bathroom and called her gentlemen
suitors after a shot of bleach refused to wash down
what she could never swallow.

She is the kind of girl who rehearses death
when you turn your back. And she will have you
turning circles for the kind of girl
she never was.

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