ENOUGH: He Feels like Gravel under My Skin

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.

***

Dear You,
AKaiser

started so subtly. How your shadow slinked
around corners at dawn. Raised suspicions –
glow in the night tape woven through my bike
spokes emitting caution. My startled heart

your pressing face against my chained gate, you
want to dress me for Madam Butterfly.
Funny, the you & you of English both
singular & plural. Three suspects made

my list: student, teacher, tech guy, four
if females count. My brothers poking fun.
Hand-cuffed policemen who couldn’t step in
until you touched me.  How you loved me so

following me away to my own house
just to breathe, just to whisper [sic] nothings.

 

Dear You,

I killed last night. No, I did not eat you
post-coitum thanks giving. Unleashed you come
up bristled chestnut stairs after a brook
of plums. Incessant sure to make the jump –

over the space where the climb gives way to
pit dark. Me with a sister, blood, sea tides.
You want her, too. She has her finger on
the trigger.  I choke to enunciate

“Yes. Go ahead. It’s up to us” as you
inch still towards us. Nails dig in. Veins burst.
Blue Beard returned home to reclaim the key –
self-perpetuating trope. Crawl and drool.

Your head in my hand, I hit it till breath
less. Flick your rattled skin bag deep. Well deep.

*

I’m scared, too.
A. Light Zachary

or,

Poem for my lover, penned one morning after we both, separately, were threatened on city streets for being visibly queer and transgender people, not for the first time nor the last

 

There is love in the I love you as there is love in the I’m scared, too

There is love in the be careful as there is love in the welcome home

No—there is incomparable love in the welcome home

There is love in every Friday night or subway ride survived

Alone, these days, as there is in risks that we don’t

Let each other take. There is love in never throwing old

       tickets, notes, or anything at all away—

Every twinned scrap an artefact to be revered, our pockets shrines

His wallet bulges with what-if-it-were-to-happen

As my drawers with this-would-be-all-I’d-have

             his sweaty shirts in sealed bags

Our phone screens crack to bear the weight of all the

Pictures that we take together—and there is love in the posing

Cheek-to-cheek as there is in, when he sleeps around me

My lifting high the camera to immortalize this awfully

       mortal thing. Safe, for now, and tangled in this

Shroud of dawn, is love, is love

                                                         Good morning—is it raining?

 

*

He Is Rolling Over Me
Colleen Baran

like I am Sisyphus and he’s a boulder
and I am straining, straining, straining but
he is rolling
over me again

and he is rolling over me
and he is rolling me over
and he is rolling
over me

and he is pinning me against the grass
and I am flattened
in his hands

his hands like rocks and mountains and dirt

like a narrow mountain road

and he’s
grinding into me like an avalanche
that I’m trying to outrun

rolling over me like road rash
and he feels like gravel under my skin

 

I Am Coffined in His Embrace

as his six foot two buries me
under his wood
his wood like grave dirt, like formaldehyde, like an airless
box gasping for oxygen
trying to get out, get away, but no one
can hear me down here
under the weight of his
sod and stones and worms
and people walking overhead saying, what a shame
she was so young, and I’m just cracking my nails
trying to break the plywood
trying to scratch my way out

***

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.