Hands zippered down he folds her into pliant. No more he’s known her than she’s known his coax-trick and his fist held bottle forced, backup track of fingers on throat, passed-out prodded, a slaplove tribute — followed by silence. Rape in marriage, still rape and daily-reminded. His night snores draw respite and she counts the lines in the tin ceiling, conjures up and befriends a centuries-old bride rocking a toddler to the creaks in the wide pine floorboards, begging him to silence to keep the husband to his sleep. In the day, public decency: a still-life snapshot of man and wife and no one aware. A bruise surfaces to show blood let out finding a way back in, but forced-fuck leaves no sign and her blood drains without incentive to reflow. As she leaves for home only the ground feels steps that hit heavier. Believing a promise does not equate to too weak to leave, but patterned-trapped in repetitious maybes; perhaps a body thinner, perhaps a voice smaller or a transformation. And if not, where would the earth tilt differently when even ghosts are afraid of shadows? Once-called crazy does a rewiring of confidence, attaching doubt to emotion. He says she exaggerates when she cries, and reaches for a bottle. Foul lessons transcend eras, teach hosts of women variations of stronger, how to mind-clutch and grasp at alive and preservation while limp-bodied waiting for parts to reassemble, rebuild. Sex a whirling devil that plays at human when summer goes well but turns biting sharp temperature drop with a whim. She collects herself and hides it in a box below the bed. When key hits latch she paints obedient portraits over her face and sets the water to boil; knives, forks, spoons to table.