I. Permutations of Excuses
Inside the dollhouse, I talked to survivors, felt the
corners of their rage, showed them mine, asked where
they learned to control it, and where in their chests they
kept it safe, and alive? Mine was so fresh—I could either
lash it out or murder it. I felt its teeth in my palm
but I needed a way to move around this world without
making it so obvious that I was a ghost. They told me—
Of course a grown man can become a chest-muffler, can
squeeze the dignity out of you like a pulp, turn you into a
pedestal for his tantrum. They told me—
You don’t need to excuse yourself for being young, for being with
someone you didn’t love who seemed to love you back. No one
should have to know that all rage has an origin story. They told me—
I wish you didn’t have to climb onto the light fixture like a revenant,
watch his fingers probe someone glued to the ground, her eyes a fist.
They told me—I wish you didn’t have to excuse the girl
on the ground from being yourself. They told me—
II. Hold Your Breath Up To The Mirror and Draw Yourself a New Face
I wake up one morning
in someone else’s bed,
and think I am being raped again but
it is just my friend
next to me, little sleep
bubbles speckle her little mouth
which opens, tells me I
stayed here since I drank
too much, she could not get me home safe
I thank her for keeping
me so safe, I wipe the
panic from my eyes and ask her
please open this Booch, my
hands are wet, my head
is raging, there’s a dark party inside it.
Later that day, I see my
face in the mirror, think
my body looks so mean. Why does sad look
mean? I drape my breath
over my face and press my
cheek onto it, feeling how fast its warmth fades
then breathe again
all over my stupid
face in the mirror and make her smile.
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 who engage 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.
Many names appearing in these stories have been changed.
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