The joke is familiar:
a girl has had too much to drink.
She lets the bottle lick her lips,
the alcohol sour her throat.
She blacks out, but not enough
to forget the invasion.
She refuses to vomit (and admit
something foreign needs extracting.)
She falls asleep in the bathtub,
scrubbing away the evidence.
She wakes up naked, dangling
over the red-hot coals of shame.
She remembers the laughter now.
She was the joke.
I have been silently screaming for seven months
trying to rid myself of the rot
building inside me.
But every time I vomit up a shot of tequila,
or cry while investigating myself in the mirror,
nothing is excised.
I am always brought back to a little white room
in which screaming, silently or not,
offers nothing but indignity.
He touched me against my will, but I prompted his touch.
He’s not a good person, but he’s a good worker.
He was in love with me.
So the boss said.
So an excuse is cemented in the ground.
So another woman splits herself open
just to watch herself bleed.
I run down the stairs
and he chases after me
With each step, I can hear
the sharp bang of his hand
my skin, the slurp
of his mouth seizing mine
I run faster to them
They’re on the ground floor
I can see them
I start to scream, I scream
for my life, but they take
a knife and make a gash
in my tongue
They bundle it with gauze
and promise me the swelling
I’m oozing red, I manage to shout
oozing red from the inside out
They don’t want to hear
but I can
see from their faces:
no one imagined I could bleed like that