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.
In my mother’s mouth
I sandpaper my calloused heels
on her molars, lie flat
on my own mothered stomach, stretchmarks
rest on her worn taste buds, wonder
how my presence tastes to her now, sour
teen rebellion, bitter
as my oversteeped self, or too sweet
like my first steps, my first words.
I prop myself on an elbow, look out her front teeth
—the chipped one on the left, where she once
bumped her mouth on a fountain.
Her mouth is home—acceptance despite
my disbelief, mostly, and host to her own
martyrdom. She named it that herself.
All that she is feminine, is all that’s been
taken from her. I lean in
toward the back of her throat to listen,
try to hear what she hears, see if I can
feel her heart radiate upward—and it does,
it’s warm as the postum in her handled cup, but
the sound is only her breath
and her voice, quieted.
I do not want to be that woman but…
there are men
in public places
bronzed in the palazzo
positioned on the rooflines
his gilt loins garlanded
a giant idealized in contrapposto
about to strike
her legs astride the head
Am I blind
to the relationship
What of lower-class Diana
quivering the Latin lovers
There are men
out of the marble
I might smash them
with a hammer
it starts when you’re always afraid
(after Buffalo Springfield’s “For What It’s Worth)
If only for a moment… sounds
off backboards, wheels… the ghost
across the street
rolled up in a rubber band
Come to the Halloween party
There will be games, a juggler
A dungeon of terror
If only I could
tell her, trust her
to say the squirrels that frisk the
grass are necessary
berries tipping toward
If only I could
speak (so unlike me)
hiding in the shadows like Boo
Radley. I never bother
any other. Never set a foot
if only I could… please…
(her face just like a bird’s
in the leadgray of the evening)
Garden as Extended Metaphor for Psych Ward
Elana Lev Friedland
My tendrils needed tending. I had no idea I’d overgrown my home. I remember a garden. With zero green thumbs to call 911—aloud we compare notes on the back of seed packets or the folds of our gray matters: terrarium repotting as involuntarily committed. Overwatering as sane on anti-psychotics. Military veteran telling rape joke in code to trigger as limbs presumed dead and shorn for your own good too soon, but plants can’t cry so why are you? You are an adult. You remember a garden. Whispering to greenery, YES I WILL HELP YOU BUT PLEASE FIRST SIGN THIS RELEASE sighing to seeds I WOULD LOVE TO VISIT YOU BUT YOU FORGOT TO LIST ME forms torn to fertilizer, first Fibonacci sequences of petal patterns drawn in this extended metaphor. The unfamiliar taste of yellow chalky soil or pill. You see it’s just that you would like to sink your xylem deeper downward from your own bed, doctor gardener. I tendril myself over telephone hours, teaching myself cultivation. DIY directory in chicken-scratch as sign of psychosis. You smile and say with every ounce of Midwestern politeness: these are my friends with cars. This is when they are available. You are a garden, apple tree grown from arteries and ventricles, serpent circling whispering wouldn’t you like to know? #wouldntyouliketoknow???
LIST OF MEN I HAVE FUCKED BECAUSE I KNEW THEY COULD HAVE KILLED ME
the title is the point of the poem is the point of pointing pointing the title is of the poem of the fucking title of the poem of the fucking title of the fucking poem they couldn’t have listed me I have fucked I have fucked the title is a list of people who could have could the title is the point is the problem the problem the point is the problem is the list is the lust is the power in the list is the problem the point of fucking is the problem the problem is that the list of people I have fucked for reasons stated above stated stated stated the problem is the state is the state is the problem the state of the problem is the state of rape of culture of cultures raping the title is the point of the problem that the number is more than one is more than one is more than zero a series of ones and series series of zeros a problem of points of ones and zeroes the POINT OF THIS POEM IS THE PROBLEM the problem is more than one more than zero more than more than more more more is the point is the problem is me when I was two is me too is the point of pointing at the problem the problem the problem the point of the title is entitlement is the problem I knew I knew I knew the problem was me too for inviting the pointing the problem
is trauma the point of the poem is the title is the problem of the beauty of this poem is the point is the problem the problem
the point of the title of this poem is the problem
the problem is the point of this title of this poem is
the point and the problem of this poem is its title
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.
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