Teri Ellen Cross Davis


Anger swells and courses off her new husband
like sudden storm rivulets repelled on a windshield.

He’s pounding the steering wheel, full bottom lip
the springboard for a fuck you flung to the driver

who cut him off seconds ago. She flinches, inches
closer to the passenger door. Tension frosts her shoulders.

She remembers the ex who punched a hole in the flimsy
wall of her rented home, the ex who turned over her

dining table, that ex who threw her across a room.
The scar tissue- memories layered over wounds

some generations old, some fresh, still wet. Fear tightens
her voice box. She tries a new tenor, Baby, please

don’t do that. With him, hope flexes- a new muscle
straining to lift belief, counter the weights of whispers

from mothers, grandmothers, sisters. Maybe this time she
won’t have to fight, maybe this time she won’t have to flee.

Teri Ellen Cross Davis is the author of a more perfect Union, 2019 winner of The Journal/Charles B. Wheeler Poetry Prize and Haint, winner of the 2017 Ohioana Book Award for Poetry. She is the 2022 recipient of the Maryland State Arts Council statewide individual artist award, the 2020 Poetry Society of America’s Robert H. Winner Memorial Prize, a Cave Canem fellow, and the O.B. Hardison Poetry Series Curator and Poetry Programs manager for the Folger Shakespeare Library in Washington D.C.