After I Told
variation on a theme by Afaa Michael Weaver
After I told, the weight on my shoulders became Wait.
Eventually things will work out like they are supposed to.
After I told, I still felt fingerprints when I showered.
These days, I lift off fingerprints as ‘evidence of survival.’
After I told, I still debated my life, feeling the razor blade
eyes, watching me, every step that I took afterwards.
After I told, I had to tell twice. My father was in the family
room, watching aimless T.V. until he heard the sound of cries.
After I told, I was called a monster by the first person I told.
A girl in my Confirmation class confirming my fears.
After I told, I finally understood the word genuine &
the word for leaving without saying good-bye.
After I told, the look on my father’s face was the same
as when we buried my Nana, his mother. Defenseless.
After I told, I still couldn’t sleep—afraid that I might see
him haunting my nightmares. Silent. Preying over me.
After I told, I tried to write about it. Taking time, mixing
with my own blood, the gears and cogs congealed enough.
After I told, I found myself lost in the words I said.
Confession does not always grant road maps to destinations.
The destinations included the oasis of forgiveness, next to
the archipelago of pain and understanding. I had to swim there.
Stephen Furlong is a recent graduate of Southeast Missouri State University located on the Mississippi. His poems, reviews, and interviews have recently appeared in Big Muddy, Glass: A Journal of Poetry, and Pine Hills Review, among others. He also had a poem in A Shadow Map: An Anthology by Survivors of Sexual Assault published by Civil Coping Mechanisms and edited by Joanna C. Valente.