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She drapes courage
across her shoulder,
this well-worn garment
she wears with familiarity
(the way others wear heels),
surface supple-tough,
familiar to her like old leather,
a gift maybe bestowed long ago
by a father, brother,
another male progenitor, maybe

Unfamiliar, uncomfortable at first,
a little girl, she grew into it
its shape is hers now,
as are the small cuts and tears,
each a whispered reminder
of what brushed into her,
left marks to remember,
hands shivering,
small weak shields, 
face-down dolls on the floor,
daddy's little girl, sis holding her own,
cornered again in the garage
or the nameless bare room,
slap across her face leaving
the taste of brutality in her mouth

In it she has been aviator,
biker, impervious bully,
still fawn, protectively colored
hair spilling over her collar,
tears spilling on the lapel,
spills of her own,
its shape is hers now
it too bears
the scrapes, indelible wear,
irreversibly compelling
this leather-toughness
silent false testimony
that abuse refines -
her garment's tattered lining
a hidden silence
against the living skin.


 Jon Bohrn (2003)

Photograph by anonymous contributor
All Rights Reserved

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