Hard Woman by Victor Henry

She led with silence, a weapon she knew would hurt him,
Make him suffer, make him meek, mild like contaminated milk cheese.

He countered with absolute astonishment,
His mind a table rasa, a single cell unable to duplicate.

His body numb, in the first stages of atrophy.

He didn’t understand. He didn’t recognize her indifference.
He didn’t even recognize there was a problem.

It was all a fog, foreign to him.

And, even now, with his ass on the line,
He was afraid to ask what he had done.

He thought when they first got together,
If something should ever happen between them,
They would tell one another their version of the truth.

They even made a lover’s pact, the kind they’d seen on celluloid,
In a darkened theater, lovers sitting next to one another,
Like unknown silhouettes in an Edward Hopper painting,
Whispering in each other’s ears what they thought was the denouement.

Whoever felt the lie first had to leave the relationship, forever.
That was their deal.

Their fait accompli: dish out tough love to one another, or nothing at all.

He said, according to his understanding of the pact,
At least his interpretation of it,
He claimed his love was profound, beyond this world.

She listened to him as he pleaded, whined, groveled.

She retreated for a moment,
Then, suddenly, stepping forward, balancing on her heels,
Leaned forward into his face,

Faintly singing a line from Woody Guthrie
In a Lauren Bacall voice,

A line that came to her as natural as daylight,
Crooned ever so softly in a voice he almost couldn’t hear,

So long, fucker, it’s been good to know ya.

Victor Henry
My poetry and prose poems have appeared in Misfit Magazine, Dead Snakes, Homestead Review, The Paterson Literary Review, Red River Review, and Slipstream, among others. My book What They Wanted was published last November 11th, Veterans Day, by FutureCycle Press in Lexington, Kentucky. http://victor-henry.net/

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