ENOUGH: All I Could Do to Survive
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.
I’ve Been Prey for Most of My Life
in the subway a man pressed against
my hips on the bus a hand on
my thigh someone’s sweat dripping
into my pores eyes lift up my skirts,
crawl inside my shirt
at home my mother’s uncle tangoes
his legs between mine
let me show you how’s it’s done get closer
my hand inside his his other hand
I don’t remember my mother
howls pounds her fists
on his chest pulls our
shadows apart she knows
what it is to be hunted
we share this history
dodge the bullets of others’
desire shroud ourselves in silence
but still they come call us names
virgen puta madre puta hija
don’t let them touch you
don’t give yourself away don’t
don’t don’t don’t
Head in a Gunnysack
head in a gunnysack arms interchangeable someone upstairs complaining feet and hands
first comes the stomach knife in the pocket I can’t track it you tear my mouth loose
hands on head put your hands on your head side of the road side of beef mustard
we went to the flowers we ate worms why are you pulling your pants off what do you want with me
we peeled shrimp my skin is peeling I don’t speak the language the train doesn’t stop
first I thought you were my uncle I thought I would drown I thought my breasts were frozen
little lilies in the water little lilies underground little lilies following me everywhere
it’s a straight line but it curves anyway turn your head why don’t you let me turn my head
I’m seeing double I can’t erase anything what kind of document lies on the road like that
snow fell on the road the car door was locked I couldn’t get out there was no way to get out
face pressed against glass spinning out of control night sky extended days spent alone
pressed to a radiator pressed in an elevator pressed against walls pressed into water
how do you swim how do you recognize how do you turn your head once and once and again
such a cool drink I had it once wind in the sails wind across the courtyard
they dance in the courtyard no one can stop them please someone stop them they’re going to die
his face looming it’s not his face that looms you can’t get out of this morning lasts forever
her tears haven’t stopped her tears aren’t broken feed the dog to the animals feed to the children
tell us your name tell us your origin tell us what you want you know you can’t have it
penis pressed against my neck his head angle and witnesses
sister they side with the other parent they
won’t believe your daughter’s accusations her
sobbing nightmares her confessional her
school counselor calling the cops her investigation her
father touching her her naked bath-time photos sister
they won’t believe her phone calls her articulate details her
mother won’t believe her as a standard deviation her
mother won’t care if she knew her ex-husband’s father had
similar allegations her daughter will accrue time
with her father anyhow equals
equals who is going to watch her
while her mother has a drink or two her
mother will sigh creative imagination—her
story’s deceptively attractive
When the Basilica Roof Brooded
Sabrina San Miguel
from cedar tree
thrown towards earth
with such force
through rib caged walls—
did not intervene
for the sake of mangled
tendons hanging by a thread.
The day we escaped,
the basilica roof brooded
hoped new sanctuary
contained the laughter.
Basted her brown butter tilework
with saguaro flower essence
the kind used to remind
the fatherless they are whole.
Smudged the empty space.
Coaxed open reluctant blinds
exhausted from hiding
the tapestry woven of
bone marrow and lost thyme.
Took an oath to remain rooted—
that was before the pillaging.
Before the crow-pecked trenches,
how the home bled to death.
The day we departed
ghost pipes gathered in clusters
sang of the peaceful decay
that stained the cream walls,
Bowed their heads in agreement—
that leaving was all I could do to survive.
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.