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Women,
let us not lift our voices
and speak like we are little girls
not let our syllables be silenced by the sibilant lilt of tongue on teeth behind
lips that only open for a whisper, let us not
seal our fates with bow lips tied closed,
cloister our words so they fust in us unused.
It’s too dangerous
if we want to be
-- when we need to be
taken seriously
when we say things
that have to be heard like
-- hear me and
-- I believe this
-- and I want you
-- I won’t stand for that
-- this is mine
-- and no.
Women, let us not lift our voices and speak like we are little girls
lest tone tarnish meaning lest softness belie urgency lest yes sounds like no
because that’s how girls end up as statistics
…one in three one in seven five hundred and twelve fifty two per ninety eighty percent…
If we say no because we are told we should, that want has no place in us or consent mars our value,
then we build a no like a bomb,
with an incendiary hidden yes buried beneath it
waiting to go off --
the violation: having that search for yes overwrite no when we mean it.
Let us never let a NO that should stand like a brick wall between us
crumble into
-- no, er, oh, no…
terra cotta edges rounding into rubble the moment we hesitate to be bricklayers
believe
-- that’s a boy’s job or
-- that it’s okay to need protection.
Women, let us not lift our voices and speak like we are little girls
because we know
that being evidence is the same as being a victim
in how it makes you
-- an object

look, skin like a projector screen
taut over imprints of possession
a smudge on the collarbone saying
you were here
you trespassed,
and should I be scraped open for your sin?
my now-hiding, blurred capillaries run into one another
like fruit rotting beneath parchment paper
in an attempt to avoid becoming exhibit A.
my inner thigh
will not sit still while an expert witness describes it like a ham hock
rainbow bright
will not be the one to speak out against these transgressions because if she does,
-- they won’t listen

(but if I do?
if I do it in my lowest,
deepest, I-own-this,
so-low
you’ll-have-to-go-down-on-me, cocksucker,
gravely river
bottom cop
voice
can they fucking miss it? )

originally created as part of a community Women Against Violence Against Women Write-Back project

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