Jean
Scott Whitaker

Scars from the wreck wrap her head
like a scarf, winding round the right side
of her lip and back around her skull
like a cruel zipper.
She sometimes itches her neck
where a small splinter of Datsun
tucked itself three summers ago.
The ghostly itch reminds her of cold beer
and the week before she drove
into the oak grove.
The week creek water lapped into her yard
after so many days of rain. And when Danny
made love to her on the porch,
she howled and came harder than she ever had in her life.
Ever could now, since Danny
had to be cut out of the Datsun,
his heart beating just because
his body was under so much pressure;
lodged between steel and bark. The scar
reminds her of autumn, too, even though it
was August when the brakes blew. Autumn
leaves running to roan along the road
from Danny’s workshop. The sulfur smell
from his welder
is the same smell her abscessed tooth released
when the dentist drilled it
to escape the gas. That was the morning
she was supposed to get the car worked on
because Danny was too busy. Dentist
first, car later. She avoids
the dentist now. Only because she smokes
too much and her teeth are cracked
from where she fell face first into the gutter.
Danny would have laughed, she thinks,
but doesn’t believe it. Men won’t look at her
unless they’re drunk. She’s easy. It has to be
this way, she whispers as she undresses.
The men have at her flesh. She won’t turn
any request down, just because there is thanks and love
in the way she gives her body to them. Thanks
and love and even a little hate
in the way they turn her over
and push. They never remark
about the scars, nor
the way she hides its snaking tail under scarves,
even during summer. She thinks about only him
before she goes out
to the bars. One day she won’t
come back, and Danny will think
that’s just fine.

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