“In the Open,” is a poem written about a year ago in this new and hopeful
era of #MeToo. A time when people were asking abused women why they did not come
forward earlier. I remembered two serious attacks in my youth and all the death by 1000
cuts experienced as a pretty young woman growing up in a time when women’s roles were
relegated to wife, mother, nurse, teacher. I remembered my own mother’s story of being
molested at the age of 14. She suffered her own silence as did her mother before her.
The poem expresses these thoughts and feelings and seems most pertinent at this particular
moment in our country’s history. Will men and women ever reach the higher purpose of
compassion and mutual understanding? Will there always be victimization and cowardice?
In the Open
The frayed curtain reveals its weft.
Among the tatters,
long hidden under layers
that weave a life,
shame and silence
cloaked in the fabric of time.
This buried injury has risen.
An unmasked cache of memories
pokes at me the way men did.
Even then I knew
how pretty, pretty
was a synonym for dread,
a snare for rape.
Unwelcome touch, jeering catcalls,
men’s fingers pressed open against
their lips, tongues out or worse,
unwelcome hands, unwelcome kisses,
spittle forced into my mouth.
How dare you ask the question,
Why didn’t you say something?
Who? My ravaged mother?
The police? They were men too
who looked at me like food.
Beauty was a curse,
youth, a terrifying alley.
Beware my pretty pretty girls and boys.
The fiend still tracks you down, no longer needs
a hiding place. He festers, out of the shadows.