I’ve had to slap scream and shove my way to NO | Bonnie Billet

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my step mother said she’d feel nothing
if she were raped     her daughters
turned away from her    my mother
said something terrible happened to her
but when we came to listen    she said nothing
my french teacher asked me
how short my skirt was
when I told her
I was attacked

I’ve had to slap
scream and shove my way
to No
I was pushed against a wall
by French school boys    three times I ran
down darkened streets
in different cities
I broke
one of my fingers

Until some guy
wanted sex
and started beating me up
when I tried to leave
he was a friend’s new roommate
I could see he was dangerous
he wanted violence
I slept with him
he didn’t come    he said
no man had ever lasted
that long inside of me    I thought
impotent
and when he rolled off me
I got the hell
out of there

don’t tell me
all men
aren’t like that    I have a husband
a son    a brother    you’re not
all men    and I’m not accusing you
but your telling me
not all dogs bite is something
I can only know
if I’m not bitten and that’s not
the point


Bonnie Billet wrote until she was 35. She has been published in Poetry, Pequod, and the Kansas Quarterly. She stopped writing for 35 years. She just turned 71 and has been writing again now for two years.

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