ENOUGH: Witch That She Is
ENOUGH is a Rumpus series devoted to creating a dedicated space for essays, poetry, fiction, comics, and artwork by women, trans, and nonbinary people that engage with rape culture, sexual assault, and domestic violence.
The series runs weekly, most often on Tuesday afternoons. Each week, we will highlight different voices and stories.
TIME MOVES TOO SLOW
A warm winter morning until
this day’s violence enters the
Five more women
shot dead and nothing will change,
a likeness of
the year before. Police tell
reporters no motive is clear.
Instead, protests mount over
lives too small
to have a beating heart.
No gun touches them,
just science. I wish
I could write
newspaper headlines. Instead
I clap when psychologists deem
toxic masculinity a public threat—
it’s moss, not fire
that keeps me awake at night.
I smell bullet smoke
between my legs and spend
most afternoons afraid
for all the babies born today.
For Jonny whose last name I don’t remember or I would write it
It’s really naïve / to not believe
in monsters / me, for instance
demon omen, ghost / I used to play a game
how many bad things will you do to me / I always won.
I’m trying to say / Jonny / you were an ant
threatening a Gorgon / I don’t / care I don’t care I
is it possible
you still have my book? Difficult Women?
I don’t know what makes a person weak.
It was hard / to have you expose the weakness of people around us.
I was ready to love a man. But he was also
Weak from the Greek Ealos a sort of flower
that never blooms /
a God who was born without thumbs and could never
open a door /
a kind of letter that actually has no sound
but is used to indicate a failed sneeze /
How badly I want to be a vengeful angel in the world
take your kind and eat them / I know
I should be better / kinder /
but all I want is blood in my mouth. Hunger.
How we become ourselves!
Over / and over /
each time as though it were the first and last miracle
a tree could birth an apple / then each year / more fruit.
i comfort men after i tell them i was raped
Josephine Blair Cipriano
oh god, this so impossible
for you. i know honey, i wish
you had been there too. the only thing
i can think of that could’ve saved me that night
is another man. how things might’ve been
so beautiful had you been the one
to muscle your dick inside me first, oh
how justice might’ve been served.
sometimes, i pass women on the street
whose babies are still alive & i will their husbands
to imagine me naked, will them to pull my hair
until the inside of my throat spits
our names into the blue flesh above—
am i scaring you? forgive me. you & i
can start small. maybe you let me
hold you, whisper welcome home
into your scalp while i disappear, the whole city
my witness. maybe i use my own blood
as a salve. oh honey, don’t cry —
there is nothing you could do worse
than what’s already been done.
RaShell R. Smith-Spears
Shanika Wade is a witch.
How else do you explain why men’s eyes follow her
like a puppy hungry for his mama’s teat?
Nana says fast-tail gals come to no good end.
Shanika Wade is a witch.
With the flavor of mother’s milk still coating her tongue,
she conjured her clementine-round tits at 9 years old
and grew them so big, she rendered men and boys powerless to look away.
If Shanika wasn’t a witch
her widening hips wouldn’t sway when she walks, luring
grown men old enough to know a child
shouldn’t be plundered with passion only a woman could handle.
She hypnotized those men;
made them hear horns tangle with dangerous drumbeats
in a siren seduction when her badonkadonk booty bounced,
so loud it drowned out the Mary Mack melody she was humming.
With her witchy ways, she hoodooed them into reading
her newly crafted figure as a novel of experience,
Shanika the Tease,
instead of a bildungsroman of shy youth and Cinderella fairy dust.
Why did she wear those itty-bitty canary shorts?
Why did she talk to Miss Karintha’s man while she sashayed
home by herself? Why was she by herself?
She must have been casting her spell, witch that she is.
None of it makes sense if she’s not a witch.
If she’s not enchanting men on purpose into hallucinating
a woman in a child’s place
then why have we tied her to the stake to burn?
Being a Girl
Inside a girl is a factory
that is daily inspected.
Nothing is ever
up to code inside the girl:
Her hips exceed
the regulation standard
of her jeans. Her anger—
Her social media presence,
minimum selfie quota.
Still won’t adapt to tampons.
The code keeps changing,
and the girl must constantly
re-acclimate to the stranger
that is her new body:
No more train rides (they make her nauseous).
No more Glade Plug-Ins (they give her headaches).
No more cheese (it makes her skin break out).
No more long parties (they give her panic attacks).
She must re-learn
where all the switches
and levers are—all the while,
production demand increases.
There are lots of other
competing girls these days,
so she has expanded her production line
to become a human Walmart
(something for every need):
mother boss-babe shoulder-to-cry-on
daughter wife dinner-engineer
writer bread-winner house-manager
The girl gets tired but the girl
keeps the lights on 24/7
because no one else sleeps these days
so why should she,
because there is so much to do,
because she knows her work
will not end until she dies.
Rumpus original logo art by Luna Adler.
ENOUGH is a Rumpus original series devoted to creating a dedicated space for work by women, trans, and nonbinary 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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