November 29, 2017

“I thought about writing his name here.”

Three days ago.

At the Goleta rest area
In the mid-day sun
The place teaming with men.
A crew of construction workers hanging out of their truck,
its cabin had a face that leered like theirs.

First a man kept looking at me and saying “hello.”
It wasn’t friendly; it was demanding and strange,
so I didn’t respond and watched him walk
back to his car and wife on her cellphone.

Then a man—somebody’s grandpa, hobbled over
to where I was stretching.
“Well aren’t you a pretty gal. And nice and limber too.”

That’s how a customer considers
meat he intends to purchase.

In the past I said, “Well f*ck you!”
but inevitably they respond
“F*ck you,” “you little bitch,” or something
showing that their comment
is not to flatter as claimed,
but to assert power, to diminish.

Underneath their comment is not
admiration for a woman,
but hatred.

Me too: Before I saw myself as sexual.
A girl, 90 pounds, in blue corduroy overalls.

Me too: So many times, in a myriad of ways.

Growing up I didn’t know a woman could have power.
It was not modelled; it was not my reality.
Nobody told me there was a boundary around my body.

Me too: In college, one night he carefully planned
and didn’t say a word.
As if I had no name.
It was a silent fight from start to finish.

I thought about writing his name here.

But you know who you are, and there is some remorse
or you wouldn’t have waited in the middle of the night
when I came laughing from the party.

I could see you leaning against the lamppost,
a haunted apparition

Following me and shouting between your long teeth:

“why did you let me do that?”
“why did you let me do that?”

until your question echoed in my head,
and even the soft, falling snow couldn’t stop the words.

As if the rape wasn’t enough, you had to come back
and f*ck the hate into me.

Me too, last month:
With a man who during the grand finale of our barely relationship
called me a bitch repeatedly.
He has a daughter.
Need I say more?

Me too: I’m angry.
Because not only do I hold my own pain
but years of stories from work as a therapist
of sexual and personal
violations that are not
sexual and personal.

They are soul violations that shatter
a woman’s ability to feel safe in the world
and trust or value her precious self.

Me too, of course.


Author: Maia Kiley
Image: Unsplash
Editor: Jen Schwartz
Copy Editor: Catherine Monkman

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