times I didn’t write

For one and a half years I didn’t write at all, following the first anniversary of my rape. (“My rape”, like a gift, a box that opened and opened and opened into deepening darkness.)

This was the first time that words failed me.

In my earlier life I was told to stop writing, that writing made me ill. This was force, not failure. I was 13 then, inpatient in one of those “tough love” nuthouses for fucked up kids. For months I was not allowed to read or write. I slept, surveyed, on a plastic mattress under cold rectangles of fluorescent light. It took years– scraps of notepaper, smeared ink, handwriting barely decipherable– to detox and find my voice again. I kept the paper scraps, loose leafs like bread crumbs that Gretel left, a trail of wish through winding woods.

I sleep now on a plastic mattress again, watched, artificially lit, studied by the homed so they may grow knowledgeable of the ways of the homeless. My child and partner have joined me now; we listen at night through the farts in the dark, the crying, the mattresses that crackle loudly under aching muscles.

Silence grows like an ink stain in my gut as once again I move beyond words.

This- these words- are a place marker, a line cast.

I am a dirty person, sleeping on a shelter mattress with my dirty family, walking through ass-thirty rain to a greasy church for a prayed-over plate of fried potatoes and eggs.

I am a writer, published, tenacious, courageous. A writer–  interviewed, fellowed, mentored, nominated. Tongue and fingertips practiced, toned with power to convert poverty into poetry.

Silence is a state that I have the power to describe. (and there are ghosts in the world and girls who can hear them, stories with only the endings to wait for, and new and new and new and knew, the rain cold on all of us alike.)

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