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What do you want from me?
I ask my memories,
Wondering why they’ve come out to play,
Tap dancing across the wood floors of me mind,
Creating a cacophony that echoes off my skull.
What do you want from me?
I hear them when they respond, “We’re trying to make you safe.”
I know they’re attempting to prevent tumbling off the same rocks,
Trying to ensure I don’t crack bones on the same hard places.
They are telling me to avoid having pieces of me stolen again.
I couldn’t protect myself at thirteen or sixteen,
So I stumbled down the same dark alleys until I was 18
And paid a grander price in an even darker cave at 19.
I’m 22 now, and I’m still picking up the pieces out of the mouths of men,
Men who cut me down until I was a conglomerate of bite size, fuckable pieces.
I was taught not to scream when my pieces were being consumed.
Who needs to be a whole human anyway?
If tip money went into my pocket,
If he told me he loved me afterwards,
If I was alive to see the morning light,
Who was I to complain?  
And when I stopped wanting to see the sun rise,
They gazed upon my pieces
And berated me for the wreckage.
What do you want from me?
Is a question I only know how to ask myself.
I have never dared ask those who stole from me
Whether they came to me in good faith,
Never had the wisdom to lock up what was valuable.
I have never demanded of anyone what their intentions were,
So I ask again: What do you want from me?
What am I expected to provide?
Am I allowed to be a whole human here?
Or will you require I be bite size again?
I am desperate to be safe in the same flesh that once enticed those who hunted me.
What do you want from me?
I’ll tell you what I want.
I want to go home whole,
Knowing my skin is all mine.
Some days I don’t want to be the voice of progress,
The cry into the shadows that demands we shine a light.
Some days I don’t want to be strong and silent,
Keeping my hurt hidden behind “Let’s not think of this.”
Today I don’t want to know where the bruises used to be
Or remember the moment I thought I’d climbed into bed with a murderer,
His arm locked around my neck.
Today I don’t want to be a survivor.
I just want to be okay.
My soul is afraid
Of when love used to be dangerous,
When home was not synonymous with protection,
And when I wasn't safe
Even from myself.
Memories contuse my heart
And leave bitter embers on my brain.
I wonder when I will be able to let go
Of a past that should not hold so much power
Over a future I've worked so hard for.
Academic conversations about consent are a pure form of agony,
Listening to students and Professor toss around the word like it's a hypothetical commodity,
As if there is question that autonomy and dignity belong to every living thing in that room.
We are asked to dissect the most intimate of physical safeties as if this is a lesson in biology,
Solve 'consent' like a particularly challenging calculus problem,
Pretend as if this didn't happen in the confines of my body.
It's excruciating to have to take an equation,
We'll start with y=mx+b,
And calculate which variables determine basic human decency.
I was young, female, gay, autistic, bipolar,
Clinging to his professions of love like they could stitch the gaping emotional wounds,
And somehow that didn't make me human when he did the math.
I don't know how to argue, Professor, with which philosophical tools,
Professor, that I was a person, Professor,
When he decided to **** me.
Memories slink like silken specters
Across my barren walls
With sticky fingers that pick pocket
My peace of mind,
Steal my sleep,
Leaving sweaty handprints across my skin
And the faint taste of a scream that died on my tongue.
I tell myself that I am safe now.  
Not a soul has breathed in this room since I examined every cranny.
Even I am existing on borrowed air,
As sleep slips so dearly missed from my grasp.
I guard my secrets in darkness while 4 am lingers heavy in this space,
Wishing unconsciousness to take me to a land
Where my heart doesn’t race in terror at every noise,
The shame of what I allowed to be done to me doesn’t echo in my mind,
And the scars are not so tender to the touch.
If only I should be so lucky.
The ghosts are restless in the way they haunt my body tonight.
I say, “I’m having a hard time with my PTSD,”
The words thick in my mouth like I am choking
Or somehow allergic to this admission,
Body, killing itself in an effort to expel the allergen.
I am stuck at a crime scene,
Whole body present for the ****** of me.
I am watching them examine my clothing,
Searching for motive and signs of a struggle,
Nobody staunching the bleeding.
I am a cadaver to them,
Mangled wreckage of what once was and could never be again.
I see the yellow ‘police line’ being rolled out over and over in my mind,
Wondering why the only one watching him break me
Was my teddy bear who’d been cast onto the floor
And the mattress on which I was the sin he committed.
Sometimes I wonder if the blood stained as it ran from me.
Did he think about the ****** when he washed the sheets,
Or was this just another day for him,
He who is lucky enough to inhabit a whole body?
What was it for him about the act of making ghosts,
Leaving me half dead every time,
How he choked the air from my body,
Just enough to separate my soul from my physical form
But never finished the job?
Now, I haunt this in-between space
A purgatory of murdered and broken pieces,
Parts too dissimilar to be reconstructed.
I wonder how they all used to fit into a whole
When their jagged edges now mar my skin,
Spilling blood that no longer runs red in my veins.
It’s blue like the sheets on his bed,
Steel gray for the threat of the sword he wedged under the mattress,
And purple like bite mark bruises up my thighs,
How he opened his mouth and somehow closed mine,
Stole the syllables off my freshly kissed lips,
The taste of morning breath and acid fear welded to my tongue.
I am left to carry my own dead body with hands that don’t feel fully mine.
They’ve left bruises of their own but none on his skin.
There’s no signs of an external struggle,
No blood stored under my fingernails,
Yet I wear the internal wounds like armor.
Closed doors don’t erase the existence of violence.
What happens in silence still leaves an echo,
Even if it’s only the drip of tears on the pillowcase.
I used to be lucky enough to inhabit a whole body,
But he struck me dead at the root of my innocence,
And now I am here telling you a ghost story.
When I say, “I am struggling with my PTSD,”
I mean I am a stuck at the crime scene of me,
But the police are not coming because I didn’t know to ask for them.
How do you tell someone that love left the bruises and you let him
Because your world was too cold to differentiate between being kept warm
And having someone light you on fire?
How do you report a ****** from beyond your own grave?
The “Police Line: Do Not Cross”
Tells me where not to touch,
What to leave alone less the remembering begin again.
It tells me not to let others too close to the scene of the crime,
Not to let them see the evidence locked in my mind.
I am so tired of carrying around my own dead body,
Trying to feel safe in the same place
I once wished he’d just killed me.
How do you escape the crime scene
When the scene of the crime is your own body?
I am not the girl you made me.
I am the woman who grew out of the decay,
The dirt and soot and open grave
You once attempted to shove me into.
I am not the girl who shook like a child,
Clutched her teddy bear after you ***** her.
I am the woman with the sword
You once wedged under the mattress.
It's mine now, along with my dignity.
I will cut you when you dare enter my nightmares.
I am a woman now.
And you're just a man on a long list of men
Who never get to touch my life anymore.
I am THE woman now,
And you're just small.
There is no sanity in inhumanity,
No reason to reprehensible.
I should stop looking for answers
Were there were never any to begin with.
I was frozen to the bed
When he reached inside me
With his hands and his staff
And stole something from me.
Yes, I was bleeding,
But he did not draw his knife.
It was fear that kept me immobilized.
His act, perpetretrated while I was mentally tied,
Has taken my ability to feel safe in my own body.
It has ruined dark corners and altered my mornings,
Left me feeling vulnerable and torn shreds through my psyche.
The **** of a partner ruined all intimacy.
His crime was not one of sheer physical brutality,
But an act of Mental Violence
That has forever altered me.
He should take care not to sunburn,
For he can no longer steal my skin.
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