These Are The Things That Shape Us

Here is the cold, grimy floor of the boys’ bathroom in the middle of
a Catholic school, my bare, pale ass tossed upon it. My spidery
legs wish to scramble but I am kept frozen by the vicious
hands of a devil I never hoped to believe in.

Here is the word no, fluttering against my chest and
getting trapped in my throat, my hands trying to recreate
its monosyllabic timbre by punching and pushing wildly.

Here is the beast that climbed inside of me uninvited, who left all
my light bulbs shattered and my windows open to let in
the frigid draft. There is my vulva, swollen, throbbing,
perpetually screaming.

Here is the version of myself from the most wistful corners of my imagination:
stronger, braver, smarter. There she is, immediately fleeing
to police, her family, the whole world, pulling down her pants
to show the wounds when they still existed.

Here is the me from this bleak dimension: weeping and naked when
the gentlest lover’s cautious hands go a little too far. There I am
screaming when will I be fixed. There is my body,
involuntarily taking control to finally say NO.

Here is the word virginity, as I ponder its meaning in the velvet blackness.
Whether I still have it, on some blessed technicality. How it becomes a
tangible, fluttering thing when it is ripped from you so violently.

Here is 17-year- old me, washing hardened cum out of her hair
while a crippling numbness begins to set in. Here is me now, grieving
all that I owe her, all the things she should have had. Here is me
from the future, coming back to release my tongue

of all that I kept locked inside of that bathroom. Telling me:
say it. again. and again.
and don’t you ever stop.