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.