marital rape

*the poem contains words describing scenes of physical and sexual abuse.

she signalled
as he entered the room
and called out her name.
'the baby is sleeping', she whispered. 
'I don’t care' he said in slurred speech.
it was one of those days, she realized.
he did not enter the baby’s room,
come to the bedroom, he said.

she got up
after a glance towards the crib
and walked out of the room.
he started undressing her,
even before they entered the bedroom
and pushed her on the bed,
unzipped his trousers
and climbed on top of her.

she smelled the alcohol on his breath,
and saw his bloodshot eyes
she never objected to offer her body for sex
she did not, however, look at him -
because he disgusted her.

she lay motionless
and her eyes glazed over
as he did his business.
she waited for his release
which meant she’d be free, too.
after he was finished he rolled over and slept,
she climbed out of bed,
got dressed and walked to the baby’s room.

he came early the next night
and called out her name,
she smelled the alcohol from the distance.
she told him she was breast-feeding and,
would come to the bedroom when she was done. 
he stared at her for a while with the bloodshot eyes
and then walked across the room to her and,
in one swift motion -
he pulled the baby out of her arms
placed it in the crib
and hit her across the face.

the attack had not yet registered
when the next blow came.
he did not take time to undress her -
tore off her shirt for access to the breasts
pulled down her panties
and climbed on top of her.
she was motionless,
not out of lack of interest -
fear paralysed her 
as he thrust into her,
harder each time.
his hand moved from her breast -
to her throat
choking her as he thrust inside her.

he punched her in the face
then again,
and again.
she trembled with fear
and she saw how excited he’d become.
his lips curved into a smile
and he punched her in the chest
and then in the stomach,
knocking the wind out of her lungs.
this excited him more than the thrusts.
he came 
as she gasped for air.

satiated, he rolled over and passed out
and she continued her attempts to breathe
she did not even realise,
she had started sobbing.

her fear was so paralysing 
that it took a while for it to register,
her baby was crying
most probably because of hunger
or fear, just like her. 

she got up from the floor
and picked the baby in her arms
who started suckling her breast again,
to satiate its hunger. 
unaware that her world had turned - 
upside down between the two feedings. 

she went to the master bedroom and
she looked in the mirror -
her baby still suckling her bruised breast
her face was bruised and she had a swollen eye,
there was a bleeding cut on her lip,
and she ached all over.
she knew -
she was not the first victim of marital rape
and she would not be the last.
she should have known,
the way things started -
this was how it was going to end.

this was the first time it had happened 
but she was aware it would not be the last 
because she saw how he derived pleasure
in causing her pain.
this was much more exciting,
than having sex with an uninterested wife.

she did not bother to put on fresh clothes,
just wrapped a shawl over her shoulder
and walked out of the house,
holding her baby to her chest -
while her husband lay sprawled half naked
on the floor in her baby’s room.

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