A Song Reminds Her

I wrote this several years ago. Posted it and then later took it down. I’ve revised it and worked with it a bit. It’s time to leave this one alone.

 

A song reminds her of all those years ago—

Upon the screen words of “survivor”

And “not your fault” inked upon the forearms of a chorus—

 

In a moment,

All the gains of strength and safety cut,

Sliced by a razor as air is choked off,

And she is held up by the throat,

Feet dangling off the ground.

Then slammed into a wall,

The back of her head hitting first.

Fighting blackness, wanting to yield to it for peace,

Fear keeps her from giving in.

 

When another backhand hits across her mouth.

She reels, turns, struggling to move forward.

If she could just make it to the phone,

To the kitchen, maybe grab a knife.

Her hair grabbed from behind,

Pulls her back, off balance, she falls.

 

“Get back here, you fucking cunt.”

 

Her dog barks, bares teeth, growls.

 

Laughter, “Only have to kick that wiener dog like this—”

She feels ribs crack.  She can’t breathe. 

 

“And I’d kill him.”

 

She finds enough air, tells her dog it’s okay and to go to his bed.

 

“This ends when I say, bitch.”

 

Her hair is grabbed, and she is pulled down the hall to her bedroom.

 

“Now, you’ll give me what you owe me, you fucking cunt.”

 

She is pulled to her feet, stumbling against the wall,

She wonders what her fever is up to now, after this.

After all, she was sent home by her principal

Because the school nurse said a teacher

With a fever of 102 shouldn’t be around kids.

 

“Thought you were gonna get to that phone, didn’t you?”—laughter

“Just imagine, the cops showing up for a domestic disturbance at a lesbian’s

Apartment.  You know those TV cameras would follow.  How’s your job after that?”

Fingers dig into her face, grabbing, gripping, squeezing.

 

She is thrown across the bed, T-shirt ripping.

Now. Now is the time to fight. She reacts—flailing—use anything,

Nails, elbows, fists, knees—anything to connect, cause pain,

Then open a window to get away.

She feels a fist to her jaw, tastes blood.

A fist to an eye.  It’s hard to take a breath.  Her side hurts.

A hand at her throat.

 

“Stop it, cunt.”

 

Something in the timbre, in the octave, in the venom,

Makes her stop then.  This can’t happen.  Can’t be.  Her thoughts stop.

It all barely registers after that—

Teeth biting, something tearing upon entering, a fist to the face again.

 

“I said kiss me, you bitch.”

 

She tastes blood again.  She’s rolled over when she doesn’t comply.

 

“Think you’re better than me, you stupid cunt?  I’ll show you.”

 

She thinks she must have screamed

Because her hair is pulled and used

To shove her face into the mattress.

 

Then it—stops.

She doesn’t know if she passed out or not.

Rumbling.  A crash.  Cursing from the kitchen, then the living room.

It’s best not move yet she thinks.  And she doesn’t know if she could.

Then she hears the front door slam shut.

Movement returns to limbs.

Swollen faced and bleary eyed, she struggles to the door.

Lock the dead bolt, chain latch and all.

Hurts to take a breath,

But she must clean,

Must wash,

Must scrub,

The apartment and herself.

Erase, erase it all—

All the traces, any trace

Of what happened.

No.  It didn’t happen.

It did not happen because it could not.

As she steps into a scalding shower,

Wash away the blood,

The touch.  Memory.

The she realizes more soap doesn’t help

The bleeding between her legs stop.

Then she realizes there is bleeding

from her anus too.

She isn’t sure now what to do.

How could she answer

The questions of a doctor

At a hospital ER?

 

She sinks down in the shower,

Thinking of what she must do.

Call into work, they expect it.

She is, after all, sick with a flu of some sort.

Break the lease,

Find a new apartment,

Movers are required, no time to wait on friends and a U-Haul.

 

Begin to rebuild, to regain.

Only to wake,

Weeks later,

In a new apartment across town,

Hiding with her dog behind clothes in a closet,

And she knows she needs to do something.

She won’t live like this.

She didn’t work to overcome

the damage of an abusive alcoholic parent

to live like this.

 

Find a therapist and begin

To pick the shards of shattered safety

From the wounds,

Find the strength and begin.

 

“You’re going to have to admit what happened to yourself.”

 

Listen to the therapist’s litany for a moment:

            Facial bruising and swelling prevent returning to work for nearly two weeks.

            Bruised, if not broken, ribs from being kicked.

            Bite marks on the neck and breasts.

            Vaginal and anal bleeding for over three days.

 

“What does that list of injuries sound like to you?”

 

Her words tumble, fractured,

Broken by a truth she thought to scrub away:

            …what you’re trying to get me to say…red flags

            …addicted to speed or cocaine…so I cut it off…

            …showed up at my apartment with soup… since I was sick

            …became irate…still said no to seeing each other…

            …hyped up on something that night…couldn’t fight her off

            …so damn strong…couldn’t fight…another woman, for God’s sake…

            …Not the same…

 

“Was anything that happened that night consensual?”

 

“Absolutely not.”

 

“That’s the definition of rape, isn’t it?  Not consensual.”

 

In the admission,

The rebuilding, the redesign

Of strength, of safety, of taking back control,

She recalls the words:

All the words she has fought,

Words flung at her by friends and girlfriends who claimed to love her—

 

            –One woman can’t do that to another.  Lesbians don’t do that to each other.

            –It couldn’t have been as bad as a real rape.  It was only a woman. So, get over it.

            –You must have done something to make it happen, to push her to that point.

            –Women don’t rape.

 

Yes, so she thought too, even after it happened to her—

At least for a little while,

Until she admitted it was true.

But she learned to stay silent,

Trusting very few with the truth.

 

Even after all these years,

To have survived, regained control, found safety

And know it wasn’t her fault,

Intellectually inside,

Yet deeper down,

There remains a tiny pebble of shame

Since her community said—

            It wasn’t real

            Since it wasn’t a man.

            It was her fault

            Since she refused sex after six weeks of dating

            And wouldn’t continue to date her.

            It never happened

            since lesbians don’t rape.

 

She stands, watching the video her daughter shares a second time.

She finds herself close to tears at seeing the words “Not Your Fault”

Inked upon an arm.  Her daughter wants to know if she thinks

It’s cool.  She says it’s great.  It’s empowering for those involved.

She quickly turns away.

She can’t tell her heterosexual daughter

That it happened.

If her community couldn’t accept it,

How could her daughter?

A risk she cannot take.

 

If she moves, twists, walks a certain speed or way,

That tiny pebble of shame bruises a little still,

As if yet rolling around in her shoe.

Perhaps for those in the community her daughter’s age,

Things are different and they hear, if it should happen,

            Lesbians do rape.

            It was real.

            You did nothing wrong.

            It is not your fault.

 

It is her thought.

It is her silent

Reverent, fervent prayer.

 

 

July

Image courtesy of O’Conner Mortuary

 

I’d nail all the windows in that month shut.

Board the place completely up.

All closed and shuttered,

Leaving it to the dust and rot.

July—the only summer month

I’d abandon

The month forced me to abandon you—

How is a starving  child forced to leave

A mother who sold herself

So the child could eat?

Thus, I cared for you

Until I had to reach out and close your eyes—

Then I dreamed

Dreamed–

I nailed the windows in every room shut

And I boarded up every room.

I took a hammer to that floor to ceiling avocado green tile

Of the kitchen tomb,

Shattering every single inch

Of mirror green shine.

I brought the garden hose in

And hosed down all our scars

Until yours and mine

Nearly disappeared.

Then I woke

And buried you

Under roses

In hot, steamy July

Shuttering you away

Until I thought there’d

Be nothing left of you.

But you are always here.

I pick the good of you

From the rubble,

See little bits of you

In each of your grandchildren.

I see bits of you in my daughter,

And our legacy is not only

One of scars.

The Rabbit

Image courtesy of Unsplash

https://amanpan.com/2021/06/10/eugis-weekly-prompt-nature-june-10-2021

When trying to respond to Eugenia’s prompt this week, this poem, which I posted a couple of years ago kept coming into my head, and no matter how I tried, it would not go away. In this reposting, it is my hope that it serves some purpose. Perhaps, someone will gather something from it.

 

A rabbit stilled,

Motionless, as if frozen

In the summer grass

 

Only her nose twitched, flared

The scent of wrongness–

A touch upon the air,

 

And she knew

Only flight carried safety

Flight, the right choice to make—

If she could only still move.

 

But she could stand only statue still

And standing so, the trap sprung

Steel teeth clamping down,

Slicing through skin,

Chewing through chunks of muscle

As she struggled,

Daring not to scream

As screams would bring the predators.

This she knew too well.

 

The trap now biting into bone,

Her struggles stopped.

Her panting calmed.

Her head rested upon the grass.

One eye looked to a cloudless sky.

She prayed for strength to chew

Through bone.

 

The Itch

Image courtesy of Egypttoday.com

https://godoggocafe.com/2021/06/08/tuesday-writing-prompt-challenge-tuesday-june-8-2021/

Today’s prompt: Write a poem that uses the words “weary”, “nails”, and “mind control”

I weary.

Weary of the white noise

Spitting out layers

Striated stone

Of itching mind control,

Of mica and gypsum

Rough, itchy flakes

Others carved out for me

To keep me in what they

Saw as my place.

My nails worn down, bloody raw

To relieve the itch from time to time

The itch that speaks the words

I know are not true

But still have the power

Of stone to crush the ribs

Of my soul with the weight

Of their damnable tonnage

That I am not enough of anything

Not smart enough

Not pretty enough

Not thin enough

Not good enough

For anything or anyone

Yes, I know—

None of it is true—

The stone skin

I’ve worn down

Over all these years,

The itch rarely there.

But sometimes—

Sometimes—

The itch returns—

Vicious, relentless

Until my nails,

Bloody and raw,

Leave me weary.

Yet still,

Still, I now create

My own place.

The World and Technicolor Youth

Image courtesy of LearningRadiology.com
 
 

When colors bled into the world

Through the ice blue topaz of your eyes,

When we both dreamed dreams of kaleidoscope horizons

Blooming in colors too true to be real,

The universe grew beyond our measure

Where recall of dreams came so easily,

Happiness and joy found no reason to arm wrestle

With the stark reality of the world back then

In our younger times—

Before the world shrank

To this extra small size colored

In tones of X-ray grays

Now showing the long-healed breaks and cracks

Of ribs and jaw and clavicle

Yet in this time of a shrinking world and universe

Steeped in all hues of gray

With the amnesia of shrunken head dreams unbreakable,

The filter of your ice topaz eyes—

A small price to pay for wholeness

Of body, bone, and mind.

The Trophy #writephoto

Image from Sue Vincent’s Thursday Photo Prompt
Thursday photo prompt: Deeper #writephoto | Sue Vincent’s Daily Echo (scvincent.com)

 

 

Staring deeper into the center of the pool,

The wisdom of a street wise Athena

Forgotten, ignored, stripped away,

She stood readied for the flow of molten metal

To form customized links of chain, binding forever

Spirit and soul into a trophy of destruction.

 

Thus, she stared even deeper,

Praying for escape,

As molten metal seared her wrists,

Her ankles, her soul,

Chaining her forever to the stone,

Making of her a possession, a trophy of destruction,

Displayed for an ego never sated.

What My Dogs Teach Me

Image is my own

Vanishing in the light of dawn,
Reflection slowly fading away–
Terrified at being lost,
Horrified at never being found

Discovering there was nothing
Left to be gained–
To be had,
Nothing left to want–
Left to desire.

Only time stood in the way
Of the time when a child
knows how to play.
A time so long ago,
Really, if a child ever knew
The luxury of play
Such is the childhood
Of a child who parents the parent–
The deficit of play

So in the return of a reflection,
To fading back into skin,
Gaining a discovery
Of the need, the desire
To play, to become at times,
The child who had never been
Allowed to be.

A Witch Among the Willows

Image courtesy of fast-growing-trees.com

Sit among the willows,

drifting in ghostly silence,

each wrapped comforted

by misery’s blanket.

Except I am no longer,

listening to words

 

carefully scripted,

tumbling into deceit’s

delicious dishes

 

easily prepared

by your thin lips mouthing words

filled with ghost meaning.

 

Regurgitated regrets

bitter in the soul and heart–

I can tell you that.

 

A thing you would not

ever know, catalyst of misery,

your starring role.

 

Except–

 

tell-tale signs of age

now crackle through songs of your

sweet, deceitful voice,

 

makes harder to catch

victims snared in misery

of life trials made.

 

Stop floating among

the willows, thinking yourself

Calypso casting

 

spells of delicious

deceit, when you’ve aged into

Macbeth’s witch drifting

in the ghostly fog of ego.

https://godoggocafe.com/2020/10/20/tuesday-writing-prompt-challenge-tuesday-october-20-2020/
https://onewomansquest.org/2020/10/19/vjs-weekly-challenge-117-except/
https://amanpan.com/2020/10/19/eugis-weekly-prompt-ghostly-october-19-2020-%f0%9f%91%bb/

Chains of Fears

Image courtesy of Tumbler
https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/10/17/weekend-writing-prompt-179-lucid/

Lucidity picks at the chains wrapped round a soul

Anchored to the ground of fears bought whole

In the marketplace while traipsing through dreams

Resplendent with beauty and flights of fanciful imaginings

That harsh noisy words and bruising blows etched,

Tattooed lucid fears.

A Crown of Thorns for You

Image courtesy of Flickr
https://sammiscribbles.wordpress.com/2020/08/22/weekend-writing-prompt-171-impact/

The impact of broken glass shards–

A mistake with need to drip blood.

Make a presence known of parts

Marred and greetings sent

For what they would take,

Staking once again the claim

To snatch away, drain  

Blood from a soul

Needed to adorn

Her ego’s bleached crown,

A haystack of needles

Pricking the fingertips,

A crown of thorns in reverse,

She claims its softness for you.