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I find your pauses oppressive,
when you can’t look my confessions
in the eye and are suddenly
frugal with your words
when you have always been
so outspoken and full of opinions,
and I find myself standing
two yards from you, a distance
that could have been heaven and hell,
unsure of myself and breathing
the corrosive air of your
unspoken judgement.

I know you find me guilty
of a crime in two counts:
of being a victim,
and of having survived.

You think my being here, talking
about it, is a contradiction,
sacrilegious, even
my wielding the gift of
a second-tier deliverance
between my legs. So you
douse Bible verses with bleach
and cast them like stones
in all directions, knowing
that one of them will reach me,
because you couldn’t sit
with the discomfort of
telling me to my face:

that I am unworthy,
that you have seen it with your eyes
but don’t believe it, that I’ve
derived something bright and
indestructible out of something
blood-stained and of this world.
But I’ve held it,
slept on top of it,
I’ve bathed in its rust
and drunk its shadows.

That’s why you won’t touch me,
isn’t it? Even my clothes
look tainted to you.
Maybe you’re holding off
until I’ve sanitized my past
and become like you, as if
you have a monopoly on grace.
You once told me these sorts
of crimes don’t happen to
the truly favored. It follows,
then, that an elected soul
cannot hold temple
in a desecrated body.
There is no wrong place,
wrong time, or wicked people,

only a God who has already
made up His mind,
with infallible bullets
and an impeccable aim,
that it only takes a single blow
for His will to be made evident.

You think I’ve borne that blow.
You think I should stay down.
You hate that I’m still here
and that your God has more
compassion than you understand.
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Image from the article “Inner Gardens”
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by photographer Vivienne Bellini

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