ENOUGH: My Uncooperative Body

By

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.

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tenure
Brenna Womer

I trade my body for good company      or company       more often than not       but professor doesn’t see me in the hallway            copy room         elevator          parking lot doesn’t see me
_____if my tit’s not in his mouth            when his red stag isn’t dribble down my chin           and sticky        to the leather of his couch like my grandparents’ couch            the family I don’t call family because     they only love me during second service      vacation bible school      bless this food and the women who prepared it            a family by any other name         is a sexual history
_____an untethered novelty          so I ask him about his parents but of course         they’re dead of course         because professor is so many years of being           a white man in this world                 in this grad-student pussy           is sixty-five years of asking           let’s go to the bedroom
_____and I am forty fewer of        okay

 

slow burn

my age always closer to the scotch in his glass
we slow-dance
next to the pool table
he asks me follow but I
can’t didn’t don’t
know how and his arms are rigid and his hand
too firm at my waist his fingers
like a trowel in my stubborn soil but he keeps
his eyes closed because it doesn’t need to be me
“me and mrs jones” and my uncooperative           body           always taking up more space than it should
____he asks again just follow damnit         but I’m drunk on light beer and can’t make any more or less of myself        and I know he has a wife at home         that they sleep in separate beds and her name is Gretchen                   but I’m in a sundress and a fresh twenty-one while his cheek is      whisker-burn against my own                                         like my father’s when he used to kiss me
goodnight

 

company 

put on a show
for me

he asks
while I ride
on top
and wonder
what it is
he thinks
I’m doing
now
does he
think I mash
my own breasts
and pinch
nipples hard
and red and
raw at home
alone
with my dogs
watching
he asks
tell me what
you really want
tell me where
you want it

but I want
to go back
to the couch
and eat
my cold
bagel but
I know he
has to
come before
I get
my everything
toasted
with plain
cream cheese

*

The Missing Children
Liz Marlow

are not taking pictures
with grandparents
and cartoon characters
at theme parks in other
states. They never stood
in lines for hours to ride
roller coasters to only puke
up cotton candy and hot dogs
or stay up late to watch
fireworks. They are not
in treehouses made with
their daddies, throwing
pine cones as grenades
at squirrels. They are not
dancing like flames from fires
built from flint and steel
with chaperones in state
parks. No one ever gave
them marshmallows to roast
on sticks and devour
in fabric foldout chairs
or zipped up tents. They
are not hiding, under twin
beds covered with superhero
sheets and blankets,
from monsters in closets.
They are not listening
for the crackling of footsteps
on leaves as friends finish
counting to twenty
behind trees, because they
became “it” in a game of tag
that no one warned them of
months ago.

*

Fil de Calzón (Field of panties)
Lily Dayton

This is for Maricruz Ladino and Olivia Tamayo.
This is for Consuelo and Magui and all those who declined
to give their last names, for those who spoke
and those who remained silent.

This is for Alejandra, who drives through red lights
and needs medication to sleep at night,
whose words at the sentencing trial translated to:

It’s like a wound that’s there
and it’s always becoming sore again
and it’s bleeding.

Her fingers are still stained with raspberry juice
but she ties sweaters around her waist
so when her mayordomo says Que nalgotas tienes
he can’t touch her beneath the layers.
Even when the heat scorches fruit on the vines
and her skin blisters with hives
she blankets her body,
ties a bandana around her head, face, neck like a niqab.
She covers her eyes with dark glasses.

Filling her bucket with fruit she tries to forget
that day in August, when the raspberry plants were so overgrown
that she couldn’t see down the row
and there, in the shady arbor of vines,
her mayordomo stood waiting for her.

When the police found his pants
streaked with her menstrual blood,
he claimed it was berry juice.

Did she know when she fled her mountain village
that she’d have to pay with more
than the bucket-weight of berries?

The grocery bins are filled with organic raspberries
that Alejandra can’t afford to buy.
When she sees them,
she looks away.

***

Rumpus original logo art by Luna Adler.

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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.