Poetry 20, 2014

People ask me why I keep writing about the same event
over and over, why I seem to focus on something so tragic,
so distasteful, so unwieldy again and again.

On December third two-thousand six in the very early
morning, maybe two or three hours after midnight, you—
a man whom I had thought was a friend—pressed me down
into the cold tile with your full weight.
Along with my growing terror, the sharp pain that shot up
my hips and lower back and paralyzed me and surely made
your attack against me that much easier to complete.

When I’m able to say anything at all, I tell those people
that I keep writing about it because it keeps happening.
I’m still affected by it; this ‘tragic’, ‘unwieldy’ event
still closes my throat and stops my tongue. ‘Distasteful’
doesn’t even begin to describe it properly.

I told you “no”. I told you “get off”. I told you “stop”.
You unzipped my jeans and reached your hand inside my pants,
tearing my underwear in your delusion. I couldn’t move, and I
couldn’t breathe. I couldn’t stop you.
Literally, I could not physically stop you.

When I’m able to clear my throat enough to breathe
again, I tell those people that I keep writing about it
because they keep asking about it. I keep writing about it
exactly because they keep asking about it.

You took what you wanted from me, skin on skin, mingled sweat
drenching the hem of my shirt and the top of my jeans.
When I struggled, you said,
“I know you like it rough. Let’s just have some fun.”

I keep writing about it because people ask me,
“What did you do to provoke him?”
instead of
“Why didn’t anyone teach him not to rape?”

———
Prompt: Write a confessional poem. NaPoWriMo

Viannah E. Duncan

Viannah E. Duncan is a writer and activist hailing originally from Los Angeles. She lives outside of Baltimore, Maryland, and holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Wilkes University. She has a cat, Cleo.

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