by october i could finally say "rape"
(albeit intonation somewhat uncertain)
after many frenzied moons, we paused
with my ghost inhabiting the far corner
and his weight aging exponential
then face slick with tears, he
cried himself a monster, i whispered,
"no, no, hush, sleep"
and he did
then obediently inanimate, i
crawled into night's endless jaws
trying to find a glimmer or
my body or a feeling
sometimes when i confide in someone,
they ask why i touched him again, say
he seems gentle, mean i'm a liar
by december i could finally scream "rape"
but nobody wanted to hear me
a timeline of hands
5 - at the older child's hands, it's bad judgement, adolescence, lessons unlearned. it's in a bedroom with a guise of make believe and a voice calling, "DINNER" and shame bleeding through plum cheeks as i ensure my clothing has been reassembled properly.
9 - at the unnamed man's hands, it's just once, possibly a mistake, hardly physical. i never learn how to put it into words, but i feel like it is my fault and i know that i musn't tell anyone(. i still haven't).
12 - at society's hands, suburban males are provoked by my body. when i'm bored, i walk down main street, short denim skirt a symbol of newfound maturity. they whir by in pick up trucks, all kissing noises and blaring horns. adults laugh, chirp, "boys will be boys" (some are men). i count the sounds, tally scores, saunter home feeling empty.
14 - at my first boyfriend's hands, it's naivety. we eat fast food, i blush every time he looks at me. it's midday when he insists i prove my love, specific measures in mind. i prove, leave wary of the verb. he shares it like a folk tale to his friends, my mythicized being rippling through middle school hallways.
15 - at the strangers' hands, i shouldn't have lied about my age. my friend wants to kiss the passenger, who thinks she's older. he steals from her on a hill half an hour out of town. waiting with the driver, i'm not fit to walk. i vomit on a trailer door mat. later, i vomit in the school washroom as details wander back.
16 - at evening's hands, i'm dizzy drunk. i kiss a nice boy in a dark room. enter less nice boy, standing too close, oozing threat. proceed less nice boy, insisting i give his friend nice boy a blow job. if i don't, he'll spread a rumor worse. this is the first time i have been invited to a party at my new school. nice boy is silent (...waiting?). door is blocked when i refuse - i shove, i escape, i stop believing in fresh starts, .
17 - at my friend's hands, i consent to cuddling clothed, house packed with burnt-out teens. i swat his hands like stubborn flies, but the flitting is repetitive, relentless, seemingly immortal... and finally, eventually, exhaustively relenting, but not before my skin crawls with unwanted touch. he tells our circle a different story, better believed.
21 - at my first real love's hands, i'm unfaithful. he endures, then boils over. passion morphs, grows sadistic. i say "no" more times than i can remember. i lie there, watch it happen from the corner, wonder who could love a motionless, soundless, empty body. i comfort him after. it doesn't break then, but it's cracked beyond gluing and it only gets worse.
22 - at the worlds' hands, i tempt. my abilities and expectations neither meet nor exceed entitlement. a blur of broken glass, stale breath, threatening letters, closed curtains, blocked numbers. the only way to evade is to smile, to submit, to apologize, to eclipse.
now - at my own hands, it's years of excusing my abusers. then it's running out of reasoning. then it's seeing it - really seeing it. then it's acknowledging it - really acknowledging it. and it still cuts and i can't name them and i've left some stories untold, but i'm trying to remember that we often sort our things before we unburden ourselves from them.