On Surviving

This post is going to fall short of what it should be, because I’m tired. I’m tired, and frustrated, and not at all the person I want to be this week.

And I don’t really write poetry anymore, but in thinking about writing something for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, my mind kept rewinding to the days when I would pound out my pain at the keyboard, trying to create some semblance of art from the mess. So, for whatever it’s worth, these are my words for this moment and this month, and for everyone who survives.

On Surviving

You can’t say it’s over, she reminded me
You can’t say, “You survived,” because we have to keep doing it
all over again
every day
We have to get up and survive

Just like we have to keep brushing our teeth
and washing our hair
Because every day we have to choose
to live
to try, to breathe, to trust
even ourselves
Because trust isn’t something that happens of its own accord

Not again or anymore

The violation of our bodies is compared
to everything
To deforestation and unpaid debt
To stolen ideas and the fucking rent
The denial of my humanity, the interruption of my safety
The theft of my physical agency
is everything
and therefore nothing
to those who use “rape” as another word for “unfair”

And no
You are not being raped by your student loans

It’s a word that has many meanings
For those who’ve never had to own it
to admit that you’ve lost control
to admit that it’s not your fault
Because if it were, you could reclaim self and safety
So quickly
you could just never do that thing again
that “why the fuck did I” moment
that thing on which we hang the unimaginable
like a coat on a rack

But there are no rewrites
And whether you carry the memory close to your chest
or in some loose corner of your backpack
or on your sleeve
You are not the property of your past

You do not belong to the memory of harm

You are surviving
every day
even when your toothbrush is heavy
and interaction is intolerable
You are still choosing
life and air

And there can be days when that’s all you do
and that’s alright
because those days are yours
those days
and the rest of whatever life you choose to write
Because you took back the pen and wrote the next scene
and you haven’t put it down

You are still here
You are still writing

And you are surviving


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