Battered Wife's Song
by Ann Howells

Some days
I wear my violet dress
to match dark jewels—
your fingers
left amethysts at my throat.

Other days
I wear the blue one
lip colored, skin colored
as when brothers tore you away
dialed 911.

And sometimes
I wear a green dress
sickly hue that taints me
when fists pummel my belly
I vomit black blood.

Yet other days
I sport a yellow dress
like fading bruises on ribs
cracked by steel-toed boots—
your choice footwear.

I dress in orange hue
color of iodine
stains on slashed skin
takes weeks to fade.

And once
I wore that red dress
scalded red of shoulder, arm,
from thrown coffee. Like me,
it was not strong enough.

Since the day
I wore a white dress
I’ve grown quiet, withdrawn.
Soon, sisters will dress in black
as they remember me.

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