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transcending silence... 2008 Issue


Every Single Day


Kaitlin Boyle

Abstract

I wanted to realistically portray how one feels after being sexually assaulted, and after one poem turned into a few pages covering a wide range of themes, perspectives and resolutions, a poem became a collection. The individual, like the collection, becomes many things -- a victim, a survivor, a child, an adult, and other often conflicting identities. My compilation shows how one woman can be many different things at different times and can feel an extraordinary range of emotion for herself and for fellow victims, holding within her the history and future of every woman. "Every Single Day" also reflects all of the diverse, often contradictory feelings that can be felt by a person within any given day. There is no one reaction to rape, no right or wrong way to experience it. My poems search for a beacon of hope in which women will be liberated from the pains of sexual violence, where men and women will heal together.

__________________________________________


I would like to dedicate this collection to the Women and Gender Studies Department at The College of New Jersey-- to an exceptional learning community where professors truly listen, students inspire each other daily, and a powerful devotion to social justice thrives.

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Sweat
Being-ache
How to Escape

Sweat

Sweat pouring
down,
dripping from their foreheads,
their furrowed brows,
their grimace of pleasure,
dripping.
Dripping, dripping into our
anguish. Our fear.
Eyes clenched shut,
can still feel the burn,
hear the motion;
taste the teeth-clenched anger.
Sweat borne of selfish need, turned
to violence, reincar-
nated as the death
of our desire.

No bandages
No love
to fix it.

Shower

Scrub until you are red.
Scrub, scratch, pull.
Wash away the stench.
The cold tiles on your back,
the pelting sewer rain,
the unforgiving chrome reflecting your
frozen shut wide-eyes.
Raw from twisted toes to vampire neck.

Strip your hair of his sweat.
His sweat.
Scrub.
Wash away the stench --
Though you know it will never leave.

You have a hard time believing this is you.
Somewhere along the line you must have floated out and above your body...
You see below you a desperate child
who is lost.

Keep scrubbing, little girl.
You tell her.
Scrub until there's nothing left.

Shadow

I.

She was silly.
Flitting, flaky,
with energy shaking.
Constantly taking in her
surroundings and waiting.
Unafraid, without boundaries.
There were no strangers,
only possible friends.
No fear in the shadows,
it is simply the place where
the light ends she said --
and excitement of discovery begins.
Delighting in her golden hair,
flaunting brown legs teaching her
who she is and who she will be.

II.

Growing up into weakness,
the childhood she never wanted.
She had never felt powerless in her
18 years --
and now he's taught her how to fear.
The unknown is not promising.
It is dangerous.
Alone, she is weak.
She sleeps with the light on and
her mother cannot save her.
Only he can rule her
and only he can be her savior.

Ravage

The escape!
A closed mouth
ripped apart.
Sacred light turned dark.
Ripped inside out.

I am not a woman,
but a mass of ravaged parts.

Perched on an oak crucifix,
wrists noiselessly pinned by silent threats.

Death. Please, death.

Bring it quick and swift!
Bring numbed darkness to ignore
the fists dug in my hips,
that turned this loveact into sin.

Ripped. Ripped, apart.

Bring death to justify the pain.
God, bring death swift to forget.
Anything's better than this.

Do Not Kiss Me

Red growing behind my eyes.
Pushing the edge, undefined heat,
nowhere to place it.
Why have I inherited this?
Should I scratch out his eyes?
Do I want this?
How do I handle this?

Do not touch me.
Do not kiss me.
You have finished,
now get off me.

(But these are only silent screams.
I do not move or yell or even speak.)

Quiet as a running stream,
tears begin to creep
and burn at the corner of cornered eyes,
as your sweaty palms lower
and settle on the small of my back,
and your kisses burn my skin.
They smell like gin on my neck
as they choke away the little life
that I have left.

Slavewoman

The chains are invisible;
this makes their command
harder to endure.
At least a bruise or two could convince
the people of his butchery.

The throat was not choked
with burly fingers,
but with an eager disregarding glare
and clever tongue.
No bruises to be seen,
no open wounds that bleed.
But I bleed.

God forgive me but I bleed...

The trade was my love sugar
for wicked candy cane.
No bargaining, no shame, no say.

Naked, scorched;
Bought and sold.
Worthless, orphaned, Earthless,
Yours.

[Return]

Being-ache

I feel as if I might collapse.
I ache, simply ache and I relapse.
I feel outside-in dead. Helpless.
At present...
no other words come to my head.

His Nightmare Too

He wonders why
she shudders and cries.
Scampers away, draws back.
He's always been tender.
He loves her.
She says she needs time
and he asks how long.
She says she does not know.
All she knows is he cannot
fill her emptiness with his
hands or words no more.

All he can say is it
is not her fault.
His biggest fear is that
he'll never be enough.

Late at night, when she is deep
into the nightmares she won't share --
he prays that he does not
break before she bends.

No Place for Comfort

Baby can't I hold you
though I don't know why you cry?
Baby can't I hold you
though I don't know why you cry?
The silence makes a heart to die.
The silence makes a heart to die.

Momma won't you hold me?
(Though you don't know why I cry)
Momma won't you hold me?
(Though you don't know why I cry)
I'd tell you but your heart would die
I'd tell you but your heart would die.

They Don't Want to Know

Eyes closed, they'll never know.
Stay silent little child.
They don't want to know.
Do not challenge the roles
so strictly defined. The rebels
are scorned at death
and punished in life.
HISTORY IS WRIT
BY THE VICTOR.
And you cannot win.
Better to curve to
power, gain comfort in
the sin of your fathers
and raped pedestal
of your mothers. They don't
want to know. They will
never know. The closed mouth
of a porcelain face
can be stronger than
a battered, broken voice.
Paint a smile and forget
because if nobody remembers
then it never transpired.

Defiance

The more she hurts, the shorter her skirt.
The more frequently she laughs
and flips her hair,
the less important is her pride.
She does not ask to be respected,
she watches her body become neglected.
She makes herself a joke,
enjoyed but rejected.
The more her physique is tarnished,
the blacker her innards choke.
But assuming "yes" is easier
than refusing "no."
She is no longer angry.
No, she gave up.

In Spite of Man

They are toys now. And plastic funthings cannot hurt you. They cannot rape your mother or tell you what to do. They are used for enjoyment. She uses them before they can use her. She throws them away like she throws away the condom wrappers that accumulate on her desk every weekend.

She does not want to be loved. She wants another shot and a ride home. She does not want you to touch her like you mean it. She laughs at tenderness and scorns the genuine way you try to please her. When you tell her that you like her smile, she rolls her eyes in the darkened room. And yes, she hopes you see her do it.

It’s hard to feel affection for the one thing she hates. Man. She sees him in everyone. She gasps as even the most honest blue eyes darken to resemble his scorching, burning coals.

She'll play you first.

Because she's getting stronger. Stronger because she's feeling invincible. Invincible because you need her more than she needs you.

If sex is power then she will make it her own. She won't let anybody inside
and she will never hurt again.

[Return]

How to Escape

Behind eyes she love recognizes,
judgment and apathy lies...
joke, sneer, laugh;
but the worst is the excuses,
excuses even worse than the worst accusations:

Dress. Vodka. Hands. Waist.

Old friends cannot be allies
and the only man who loves her --
Her daddy. Her daddy does not know.
Would he defend her? She'll never know.

Dress. Vodka. Hands. Waist.
Dress. Vodka. Hands. Waist.

She has finally learned how to escape.

Women she never knew understand her plight.
She finds refuge in her books.
She finds wisdom and opens doors she never knew existed.
She almost wants to thank you
for all that she has gained from her pain

for all that she has gone through.

Dress. Vodka. Hands. Waist.

She sees she had been hurting herself,
burning all the beauty inside she once loved --
for the sake of a masochistic image
that she knows isn't her.

She has no time for that anymore;
she now knows what she has to do.

No more blame!
You are the ones who
should feel ashamed...
and she's going see that you do.

She finds power in her womanly body again.

Strength in Her Anger

I OWN THIS REBELLION,
MORESO THAN I THOUGHT
YOU OWNED MY SOUL.
I EARNED IT.
I LIVED IT.
IT IS MINE
AND NO ONE ELSE'S.
I CAN DO WITH IT WHAT
I WISH.
I CAN KILL OR I CAN BIRTH.
I CAN FIGHT OR I CAN FORGET.
BUT IT IS MY CHOICE,
NOT YOURS.

My existence is resilience,
more powerful than you think.
He tricked me, I was fooled.
But Goddamnit I am not stupid.
I'll be alright,
if only to grow into the woman
I know I can be and shout
at your allies, your brothers,
your society:
TO HELL WITH YOU.
I SURVIVED.

Purpose

I want to save the world because
I almost could not save myself.
Maybe if they know more, maybe,
if they're better prepared,
they will not be scared.
They will run rather than hide
so deep within themselves until
they are so numbed
that they cannot feel
the burn of the whip,
or hear the subjugating crack
of their insides.

I want to show them the lash
and teach them the underground path.
I crave they look through
bloodshot, weary eyes
so that they be smart and survive.
I will be dedicated to their lives,
make them mine as my sisters in time.

Maybe I don't need saving afterall.
After all, maybe I was never lost at all.

Clean Again

Surviving is more than living --
living, more than breathing.
There is a difference and
I've learned that by truly Seeing.

And now. I make a choice.
Do I carry on or become re-victimized?

I see a day ahead
where I am clean again.

Not tomorrow or even next year...
I may not even see it in my lifetime,
but its presence is undeniably there.

Freedom waits for me, and so does he.
They will both wait until we are ready.

The freedom to be a woman
waits for my daughters
and waits for me.

[Return]

Edited by Raziel BenReuben and Janice Chin

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