Lynne Knight

These Are the Conditions, Then

If I’d locked the door that night—
If I’d slept less deeply—
If he’d chosen another floor
in the 20-story building—
If I’d lived in a different city—
If I’d understood the dream
the night before, with its
logs and wild horses,
its cold wind—
If I’d been stronger and had shoved
him from my body and then fled—
If violence were not a force
that rules like gravity—
If I’d screamed—
If his hands had not been wrapped
around my throat—
If he hadn’t asked my name—

Of if I could tell you how still I lay
while he took my body,
how I can still hear the door closing
after him,
how still I lay
while my body
came back to me,
arm by thigh by throat by hand—
how I washed it and washed it,
numb as someone washing
the corpse of one she’d loved