The 67th, 68th, 69th Blow

He could only understand her with his blows,

grabbing her by the throat

strangling the last words out of her,

hitting her on the top of her head

trying to knock any idea

of her making him a better man,

like his father tried 136 times before.

Yes, he remembered every blow he received

just as she took tally of all 67 he delivered.

The next one will be 68,

halfway to his father’s count.

He will stop, he thought,

consoling himself with the moral insight

that he was only half as bad as his old man.

Besides 69 was a love number,

a time for her to show him some appreciation

by getting on top and blowing the fuck out of him,

while he turn his face away from

the tangle of her brown pussy hair

because the taste of her abuse

wasn’t sweet enough to his tongue.

He dragged her out through the fields

towards the swamp. The old rage wafted up

and the only thing that mattered was that he kill it,

murder that bitch, briefly ashamed by the remembrance

of his six year old son calling her that same word

in the kitchen with the equal velocity

and rage he felt right now.

He pulled his deer knife out of his pocket,

the small one he used for gutting,

placed it at the tenderest part of her throat,

the spot were frightened blood pounded

and felt the most alive. He was planning

on burying her underneath the wreckage

of that old sorry piece of shit Ford,

the one he gave up trying to rehabilitate

because the parts no longer existed.

He never noticed his boy was following behind.

He dropped the knife when he heard

the two screams come, one ripped

through the voice box of his wife, the other

off the tongue of the son he hardly noticed.

The 137th blow his father never got to deliver,

the 68th blow of their marriage

was delivered by her, a left handed

backward elbow straight into his Adam’s apple.

While he strangled

in the recognition of his blood leaving him

and returning,- no, not really, not ever, he thought,-

she delivered the 69th straight into his nuts,

both knowing and relishing the irony.

It was the last joke they would ever share.

She ran behind and grabbed their child,

then both made a dash for

the two lane black tar road

thirty yards into their future.

The first light they saw

stopped and took them away.

The last thing he heard,

as gravity pulled him down

to be buried in the mud of his own shame

was the simultaneous half laugh, half scream

that was the lingering echo of their last caress,

his savage groan and recognition

of their last punchline vomiting out of him

as he collapsed and buried his face in his hands,

acknowledgement that he was half the father,

the man, the child everyone thought he was.