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.
a diagnosis of our daughter’s sleep apnea
to my husband
last night I had a flashback
of the exact moment when
she watched us put our hands
on each other
I was in her eyes
her pupils expanded taking
screenshots of our twisted bodies
each image captured the creases
on our skin
I heard sharp aching sounds
as muscles twitched under her chest
on her eyelids our voices muted
our faces blurred by her tears
the other night she kicked
her blanket off the bed yelling
no stop it
it must be us she was seeing us
throbbing our limbs around like
quadruple lightening hitting
buildings while she stood
under the night sky
in her sweat
Mary Hutchins Harris
Here is a book. There are pictures in this book. You are the one with breasts. Yes, I know your breasts do not look like this. But they will. The man is the one with a pointer sticking out at the top of his legs. Yes, I remember you saw a naked man standing at the window of the green house on the way to work with me. No, his pointer was not sticking out, you are right. But it was there between his legs, a shorter leg with more hair around it. Do you remember or did the red light change too soon? I want you to read this book. It will tell you about becoming a woman. Yes, I did say the blood comes out at the top of your legs. I want you to read this book. Then I want you to hide it from your father, your brother. Do not read it in front of them like you do Nancy Drew. Yes, if you have questions you can ask me. This book, this book should tell you all you need to know. Yes, everything, except you should never wear pajamas to bed. When you are a woman, always wear a nightgown to bed.
surviving fifteen / quince in miami
& i was fed in water
ocean juice when i was sprouted
scorched sea oat
fields of grey softball & uninflated soccer
at the ripe of 15, beached quinceañera
fed fresh sugar cane
no vaya ser que se nos eche a perder
so she doesn’t get ruined
the honors placement, youth folclórico
rumbera burning sequins in 8st carnival ballet
arte es para art is for
trabaja ya estas lista work you’re ready
estudia hasta que se te quemen las pestañas
study until your eyelashes burn off
hasta que derrames sangre until you spill blood
que un día that one day
puedes ser un ejemplo you could be an example
a wife a mother
ten cuidado con lo que dices be careful with what you say how you say
mira lo que paso look what happened
one decade, spin across
the new images of the black hole
lo mas importante que una mujer puede ser
the most important thing a woman could be
una virgin a virgin
My daughter looks at her hands for a long time. After
I tell her what they can do. To anyone who tries
to take her. The girl doesn’t want a stranger’s blood
beneath her nails, doesn’t want the shocking give
of a stranger’s eye. I took my first
self-defense class when I was ten. I still can’t
shake the cringe. The girl makes a fist.
Thumb tucked inside. I shake
my head. Pull her fingers sharp.
The lamp casts our shadows on the wall.
The shadow mother merges with the shadow
daughter. It goes on forever.
What a hand knows of forever. Bone. And
grip. Hold hands to stay together. Not to
lose. To squeeze. A warning. An accident,
averted. Yanked from the grasp
of disaster. Such small hands. Busy always.
Scribbling crayons into nubs. Melting chocolate.
Impossibly quick. The chance between hesitate
and too late. My hand rakes tangles
from her curls. A shadow hand catches her
ponytail. Yanks her chin straight up.
Her throat exposed. And all
the tiny roots sing ouch!
I know it hurts. I know. These hands
soothe. Wound their own palms with their own
nails. With rage. With worry. I look at the dirt
beneath her nails. See blood. My hands
guide hers. Dagger. Bludgeon. Gouge.
The lamp casts shadows on the wall. Rabbit.
Danger. Run! The girl memorizes
the shapes her hands must make if
she is caught. Behind the shapes,
the violence. Of what her hands can do
if they have to. To escape. And beyond
escape, the violence. Why she has to.
As a child I made things up too often my friends stopped listening. I did not wish to become a liar. The stories I can explain. I wanted so bad to be held. I have seen girls pull their heels off at gas stations. Seen one lie about a torn dress on her way out of an interview. Seen one shuffle countries to be rid of an uncle. Seen many roll their eyes at the mention of communion. A union. So father, bless the loud girls. And the quiet ones. Those who left their voice in the hallway of a public restroom. Those sitting inches away from a family they can’t use their dinner knives on. Bless them. The ones with holes in their bones. Their trust a shipwreck. Father, bless us flowers so we may open again. If we want to.
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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