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November 30, 2016

I See You—the Morning After. {Poem}

bed

A boy
a young girl
a broken condom
or the absence of one
all together
they hardly know each other
her vision clouded by shame
she has never felt more alone
as she cannot speak of
this
she wishes to disappear
into the wrinkles in the sheets
and not be visible to the eyes
of another
for we were raised to shy away
with no direct conversations
no curtains pulled back
on the mysteries of sex.

Sarcasm met the sex scenes of movies
obnoxious fake kissing noises made by fathers
resulting in nervous laughter
of their children
as all present were careful
to not lock eyes with one another
learning:
sexuality must not be seen.

Us girls, us women
we live in a world
where we have to go to the prescription counters
of pharmacies lit
as unforgivingly as the eyes of strangers
when we walked out alone with what we were about to ask for
too ashamed to tell friends, sisters
mothers
asking the pharmacist
voice shaking
gaze down, for we cannot be seen
not like this
“can I— “
we choke on fear, coughing
“I need, um, I need plan B.”

The questions that follow are humiliating
the pap smears feel all too invasive
the sheer lack of understanding
around our most intimate
private
parts of our bodies
(they call them private, so they are)
then one day
in the hospital
doubled over in pain
we are shamed for having sexually transmitted diseases
our support systems, our rocks
are now like water
for our mothers stand on the other side of the plastic curtain
unsteady
as the nurse tells us
we are promiscuous
and now may not be able to have children
their eyes say it all
all that we learned in youth
that we had sex
and now we are not okay
we find new meaning
to the word
shame.

In our society
that is fighting to even have the right
to expose female breasts
sex is still not okay
it should still not be spoken of
if it harms us we must take our medication in silence
and pray
for forgiveness
for sinning
in the most natural way.
for there is something in the water
we have been drinking for 20, 30, 60 years:
shame.

Young girls who have sex
are not tainted
young girls who get STDs
are not dirty
young girls who cannot have children
will still be women
we must stop fighting women’s bodies
their natural urges
and natural responses
positive or negative
to consensual sex
to sexual trauma, abuse, rape
and instead
fight the solidification of shame
as our world shames sexuality
for sexual liberation
shames our current world
our urge to stay hidden, separate, unseen.

Our world is changing
we must not be quiet
with truth
until the day
there is no
shame:

a girl’s eyes
hold steady
the gaze of a stranger
in a white lab coat
when she asks for what she needs
if she needs it
“the morning after pill
please
and thank you
for I had sex the night before”
and she knows
whatever the circumstance of the encounter
she is still worth
being seen
and the human
in the white lab coat
smiles
“I see you.”

~

Author: Annabelle Blythe

Image: you me/Flickr

Editor: Caitlin Oriel

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