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Bring me your judgements,
the ones edging your
quick eyes
and loaded silences,

speak them,
you might as well

the “what were you wearing”
the “why were you
even alone with him”
the “why didn’t you
tell anyone right away”
or “why didn’t you scream
until someone came”

but you can no longer
stir up the heavy grains
that have settled to the bottom
of my self-forgiveness

because I’ve finally written
about it, and the years
are fresh from the digging
and no longer weigh me down

and my womanhood can breathe

and sure, I will tell you
I was wearing a size small
Herbench t-shirt the color
of a faultless sky,
a pair of dark jeans, and
flip-flops with sparkly beads

and that yes, I broke a rule;
I didn’t get my landlady’s
permission to entertain guests
that day, so I had him wait
on the ground floor and sent
him a text to come up
when the coast was clear

and I know he kept that text
saved on his phone for years,
because after he was done
I said to him, my voice
casually tiptoeing on eggshells,
did he know that what he did
was rape, and he simply
pulled up my message,
held the screen up to my face
and said,
“no one would believe you”
with his tone flat, as if
with the gravity of boulders

I had trusted him,
I had trusted the world,
and it taught me a hard lesson,
thank you very much

and you can go ahead and blame me
if you know yourself so well
that you would never, ever
be in any compromising situation
(good for you)

but really,
after I’ve soldiered through
a decade of blaming myself
nothing you say can make me
or better

but at least I’d know
never to trust you

Image of Daniela De Jesus for Elle Vietnam,
October 2014 by photographer Benjamin Kanarek


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