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 runs every Tuesday afternoon. Each week we will highlight different voices and stories.
With his third blow, a field of blue hydrangeas
starts to bloom across my face. I look at it in the
mirror and I see my skin turn indigo.
My body is the sky on which he burnishes flowers
with the sapphires at his knuckles — dayflower, iris,
bluestar — pool of ink-blood dripping.
I’ve always wanted to be anything but human.
Back home, I’d tell my mother, make me a blue
lotus, and she would smile, her sweet mouth sewn
with fresh water lilies. And now, I identify as a
heliotrope. How lucky.
Look mother, I am a flower.
The only real emergency
we ever evacuated our sixth grade classroom for
was when Sam liked me so much
he doused himself
in Axe Phoenix body spray, the one
with the blue insignia on the black bottle.
A little can go
a long way—a lot can gag a classroom.
He’d left to “go to the bathroom”
and returned reeking worse than any
skunk I’d encountered, dead or alive.
Mrs. Williams, coughing, waved us all
outside, where we lined up
as if for a fire drill, though there was no
fire except for the one burning in Sam
for me, and my face bright red like a fire
hydrant from shame’s heat.
Sam was instructed to run laps
until the Axe stench died down.
As soon as everyone could breathe again,
they turned their eyes on me, as if
this was all my fault.
Maybe if I’d given him
what he wanted—a hug, a kiss,
any admiration at all—everyone else
wouldn’t have had to suffer. Our algebra
problems, abandoned, as we went
in search of cleaner air.
I am my mother’s
daughter, both of us
in the closet,
saying we never have
to thread the needle,
and mend what’s been
We boil bones
jars of broth
sustenance in a hurry.
We like this
to sitting with
My First Lesbian Experience
was playing my Barbies naked in the lake,
plastic tits tapping, open-eyed, face to face,
pink lips on where nipples would be.
I was washing their hair when it happened:
one doll forced the other under water
with a half-moon kiss, and it looked soft
even though it was unsure, so sudden,
the click and tap of their breasts
made rhythm with the waves
and I hummed for them, light and low moans,
with clicks and sand-wash and rubber feet,
my fondling fingers clearing clouds of hair
from their eyes.
But it didn’t last: What’re you playing, kiddo?
I quickly shifted under his shadow,
and shoved their heads in the mud
told him I was playing shipwreck, Little Mermaid,
one Barbie saving the other—told him
there’s a storm, and it’s deep, and they’re drowning.
Old White Men & A Skirt Too Far Above the Knees
Sheree La Puma
Inspired by Christine Blasey Ford
i believe. i carry wounds
in a book that
wounds perfectly made.
do you remember
the small of my knees,
pain is a moment left
out to dry,
like a wet dog
in its own puddle
water follows, touch it
like a bruise, at 12
i had a series of encounters
with old white men
in the innocence
of a skirt
too far above
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.