As if when a boy teased you, it only meant he liked you,
And if you teased back, you’d disappear. As if
being called slut made you taller,
and whore restored your voice—magic, see?
As if your fear of men could make you
walk on water, their touch could split you in half—
Long division (cherry pie filling), two selves never to meet again.
As if you could no longer breathe underwater,
surfacing, no longer an option. You’d spit
and sputter and do the math. The equation adds up:
Asking for it + asking for it = deserving it. If A, then B.
Add. Subtract. Divide. Go forth, multiply.
Let them spin lead into gold,
speak their secret names for God,
antiseptic, wind, water on your skin, eroding your hoodoo body…
It’s all perfectly sane, normal even: predator/prey, Kingdom Animalia.
As if rape is never really rape,
As if you were quiet, quite quiet, then very, very loud.
Cindy King’s work appears in The Sun, Callaloo, Prairie Schooner, Crab Orchard Review, River Styx, Cincinnati Review, North American Review, and elsewhere. Her book, Zoonotic, is forthcoming from Tinderbox Editions in 2020. Easy Street, her chapbook, is forthcoming from Dancing Girl Press. She currently lives in St. George, Utah, where she is an assistant professor of Creative Writing at Dixie State University and faculty editor of The Southern Quill.