Ode to a Black Eye

I can’t remember now

If it was your left eye or your right

Just how puffy it was

Almost swollen shut

Black and purple

Against your pale skin

The white of your eye


From the force of the blow


I don’t remember

If we asked what

Had happened

Or if we just knew

I do remember

Being in Mrs. Merten’s

English class

People whispering

Into each other’s ears

Wondering what you had done

To deserve this black eye

Had you pushed John-John

To the limit?

Flirted with another guy?

Had you been mouthy?

They wondered

A bitch?


You could be mouthy

You could be a bitch

In the way that only a teenage

Girl can be

I hit you once myself

At a middle school dance

After you said something

Cruel and hurtful to me

Pushing a button

That only an old friend

A good friend

Knows exists

You laughed at me then

I remember wishing I had

Slapped you harder


I watched the swelling

Gradually recede

The colors fade to yellow

And green

Unsettled day after day

Sitting in the back of the room

That black eye

Has haunted me for years

My silence has haunted

Me for years

I should have told you

That no woman

Ever deserves that

I should have told you

To dump his sorry ass

That he didn’t deserve you

But I didn’t


It wasn’t until

I left our small

Blue collar, provincial

Massachusetts hometown

And went to college

That I learned to call

This exactly what this was

Domestic Violence


© 2016 Christine Elizabeth Ray – All rights Reserved



  1. You’ve nailed the dynamic perfectly here. Out of ignorance, conditioning, avoidance, and other rationalizations and realities, it is easier to do a little, often conditioned, speculation and move on when a person sees it. If a person is motivated to learn more and do extensive research, they can understand, then educate others.


      1. Jawdropped actually…not only because of the power and strenght i felt in every syllable but the also because you wrote it so beautifully that it gave me feeling of relief at the end. Some very powerful poems are so powerful that you remain mad even after you finish reading. This one is different.


  2. This is something that sometimes drives me to the point of insanity. Even when I take action I instantly start asking “could I have done more?” Much love, Lady.


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