A swift blow to the stomach and all the air has vanished; you cannot breathe.
In its painful absence, you are the somber sparrow, the one that travels from someplace far away to sit upon your kitchen windowsill every morning, the one whose voice never fails to grab your attention.
You ask yourself, Where have I gone?,
and open your eyes to snarled lips and clenched teeth, to the rabid growl of spittle-dripped threats that keep you pinned against the wall.
His voice hollows for no one but you.
You hope this round is over, and although you’ve developed thick skin, and you learned early on you could absorb a man’s swing just like you absorb his words, you are desperate to get out of the ring.
In this moment you are certain – you have to fly away.
You will your vernixed wings to spread, but your feet remain planted on the ground.
You beg them to hurry and ripen, to lift you off your feet, for your heavy limbs to at least shield your tender spots as he squares up with you again, hovering.
Because you know what he wants, what he always wants – for you to fall to the floor, so he, like Ali, can scream,
What’s my name?, What’s my name?
You do not waste the sound of this blossoming voice in answer to his fustian phrase; this voice is for flying.
-artwork my Jeremy Paul, found on Pinterest