Intimidation

March 1, 2003

Poetry of the Times

He blocks the path between me and the door
with his body and the smell of gin,
his wife still dressed in a hospital johnny,
charcoal crust caked on her lips.
Like a thunderhead on a stifling afternoon
his voice rises and I grow quiet,
sweat beading like rain under my arms.
He waves his fist at me for keeping her prisoner
in the hospital, then suddenly reaches
inside his jacket-I'm sure he's going for a gun.
I wish I could say I responded like a martial artist,
but I sat as still as a hijacked passenger
imagining the perfect black circle
pointed at my face, the explosion
of gray smoke, the smell of black powder
and I could see the sharp margins
of the entrance wound, gray matter
splashed on the wall, my blood pooled
on the floor. But his hand shoots out
with a photo of them at the beach,
his nails clawing her sunburned shoulder:
She's coming home now.