Ugly, you whispered, to me you are beautiful

I cannot change the ugly sounds
that once scalded my throat.
One kick, one slammed car door, one yell
I would have run.

Steady rain licked red dirt
I watched neighbors’ porch lights
weave in winded trees
through the window.
You kissed my chest
and, in me, the ugliness
needing to be horse-broken.

You had bridled hands,
a tongue steadied my neck
the way handlers coo wild beasts
into pasture.

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