ENOUGH is a Rumpus series devoted to creating a dedicated space for essays, poetry, fiction, comics, and artwork by women and non-binary people that engage with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
The series will run every Tuesday afternoon. Each week we will highlight different voices and stories.
they come north for the woods.
for the soggy overhang of trees.
the dampened noise and the echo.
for the deer. the blood. the bullets.
quick and vicious. the season brings
men clothed in forest. they rock their guns
to sleep, cradle the metal bodies. the hard
and silver teeth. their stocked freezers swirl
with ice. with ink-dark meat, sinew. blood
unravels onto concrete floors in damp garages.
these men do not surprise me—their hands,
dirty, coarse. their tongues turn to gold
in their mouths. they apologize, about nothing
and everything, but their teeth are steel
cages. they chomp and glint—they sparkle.
it doesn’t matter what they say as they proceed
with the gutting, the skinning. hanging the animal
by its neck like that. I’m wounded. I limp
into a clearing lit by the sun. maybe I’ll be safe here.
I’m always surprised when they find me.
the men: more and more of them tumble
from the fog. their breath dirties the melting
snow. the deer, even, spooked. hooves hurried
and sharp. maybe I’ll wear fluorescent orange
next time. maybe I’ll carry a whistle that calls the sky.
the grouse, the crow, a dissimulation of birds.
A Man in a Bar Takes a Picture of Me
without my permission. it’s because I’m reading a book and this,
he decides, is not enough fun. I should, by all intents and purposes,
be having more fun. so he poses for a selfie. his phone cocked
in my direction. I know what he is doing. my knuckles are white.
I hold the book like a slingshot and a rock. this is something new:
I say nothing. I glimpse the picture on the man’s phone and in it,
I am staring right into the lens. he is not bothered. he laughs. I glow
in the orange light of the bar. I cannot forget his hand. his thick
fingers and how he just assumed they owned me. this is the lesson:
my body turns to chalk. my skin forgets its smooth, dripping shape
like wax. the next day, ice coats my car in a hardness that scrapes my palms.
when I say forget, I really mean I remember every moment about that night.
the cartoon snapshot sound his phone made. the flash he didn’t turn off.
my eyes, alive, in a circle of light—above this man’s head, like
he was my sun. like I was a moon, orbiting.
It’s Been Four Years
and still, I gather evidence.
I don’t delete the texts,
but keep them buried
deep within the guts
of my electronics.
they live somewhere
in that microchip—
his words: green, fruitless,
coal-like. that dust all over
my hands. let me tell you
though—I rinsed all
the ash. I watched it swirl
down my sink like blood.
I killed that dear love.
cleaned it up with bleach
and mouthwash bouncing
off my teeth. in the tourist
town of my dreams, he never
visits. the roller coasters groan
to a splintered stop. keychains
at the souvenir shop clink
in a chorus of metal. I lick
the back of my hand
and slap a temporary tattoo
on my skin. it glitters. it’s his
face. it’s evidence. maybe it’s
the moon, maybe it’s a bruise.
my hair pulled back, my scalp
weeping blood. in this town,
maybe I never meet him.
he doesn’t text me once
a month to remind me
of what he did. his area code.
those numbers burning
like little matches.
pantoum for his snoring
he forced me awake by snoring after
commendable I was able to fall asleep
this is his bed now he is rooted I am
snapped hanging on to assault charges by
splinters commendable I was able to fall
asleep maybe it was the best defense
after all I am snapped hanging on to
assault charges by splinters laying next
to him maybe it was the best defense
after all remembering roots can hide
their wicked in dirt laying next to him
above the ground remembering roots can
hide their wicked in dirt I wish I only
needed sunlight above the ground pure,
safe, calm, recovered I wish I only
needed sunlight this is his bed now he is
rooted pure, safe, calm, recovered he
forced me awake by snoring after
If we’re not counting last august,
he’s a good man. Smiles at cashiers as he tucks
coins he’ll forget about into a jean pocket. Never misses
Mother’s Day dinner. A Facebook photo
of him at four comes to mind: gap-toothed exception gleefully learning
new words for “more.” Trying out “gimme” or “mine.” Years after
he’s spread into maturity, his neighbors swear him division 1
charming. The type of sweet that makes you stop asking questions.
cut to the swoon
of the night. practiced enough in tepid
mirror choreography, i swing
at memorized angles to a track
by a publicly bad man. watch privately bad men
recite each verse. understand that this moment is a product
of repetition. step. sway.
steal. sing something
about forgiveness. smile. start again.
He couldn’t have I know him he has such a nice smile I bet he smiled at you just right and you’re ashamed of what happened next you know you have to own up to your choices you know that was a choice right I know him he studies so hard business I think or communication one of those jobs where you gotta know how to say the right thing until you don’t I hear the starting salary is amazing crazy how much you can make to hustle people out of their
underwear. blue boyshorts from the men’s section. above that, jean shorts mom hesitantly approved on a whim. a striped racerback cami i never gave back to my sister. she’d know what to do right now. red converse stick to the floor on my way out of that little hell. none of it touches my body again.
Rumpus original logo art by Luna Adler.
ENOUGH is a Rumpus original series devoted to creating a dedicated space for work by women and non-binary people that engages with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence. We believe that while this subject matter is especially timely now, it is also timeless. We want to make sure that this conversation doesn’t stop—not until our laws and societal norms reflect real change. You can submit to ENOUGH here.
Many names appearing in these stories have been changed.
Visit the archives here.