I still remember my lessons.
I don’t have enough earthquake
to break apart these
fault lies,
shake off the charm school quiet.


 

The first time I told my parents I wanted to kill myself
I was five.
I got slapped,
sent back to bed,
told never to say that again—
I never
said it
again.

I asked my mom why it was okay for dad to hit me,
she said
he was right
because what
I said
upset him.

In third grade, when a kid
cornered me on the playground,
and choked me until the edges of my vison
gave way to darkness—
I came home and told my parents.

They asked why I didn’t fight back.
Asked why we were friends in the first place.
Asked why I didn’t tell someone sooner.
Asked what I did to make him so angry.
Asked why I didn’t scream.

I told them:         I couldn’t even talk.
Couldn’t even
ask him to stop.
He had taken my voice—
but he hadn’t been the first to do so,
wouldn’t be the last.

When I was sexually assaulted,
I was nine—
but thank goodness,
I had learned my lesson by then:
This was my fault.

Telling someone would just make it worse,
would just let them know my shame.
I’d deserved this, somehow.
Surely I’d invited it,
my “No” must not have been loud enough,
my choice in friends should have been better,
I should have screamed,
should have fought back—
this was,       my fault.
Before it even happened I was told, it would always be
my fault.

Now,
when a man tells me
I better not walk away from him
—my feet stop.
I hate myself
for the smile I turn around with
to greet his greedy eyes.
When a strange man twice my age
reaches for a hug,
(right after telling me about how great my ass looks in blue-jeans)
I           silently            comply.

I still remember my lessons.
I don’t have enough earthquake
to break apart these
fault lies,
shake off the charm school quiet.

I have never been in control of my own body—
“Autonomy”
is an alien concept
—from a planet where my gender
and my place
and my guilt
are not decided for me,
not assigned at birth
with a name and the check of a box.

This is why
I park under street lights.
Carry mace.
Walk to my car with my keys
between my fingers
like prayers—

I don’t want to be a victim again.
But if I’m going to be,
I want to find as few reasons as possible—
for it to be
my fault.

 


Sam Deges is a Queer “writer” slowly running away to the trees. They are currently a part time writing tutor studying Literature/Cultural Studies and Critical Gender Studies at the University of California, San Diego, stepping into the world of professional creative writing.

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