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The television is on
to a channel that reports
the sexual assault of
three sixth graders
by their gym teacher
and I am checking my
eleven year old sister’s
arms for marks.

Between my fingers,
where the skin is soft
and the papercuts sit,
the keys have made
grooves in my skin,
like the weapons they
become at sundown.
I whisper prayers at 8 PM,
walking home. I pray the
night paints me invisible
to the man whose footsteps
get closer behind me.

My father laughs.
He says this womanhood
is a volcano made
for blanketing.
Looks at my bare calves,
the cliffs of my shoulders,
the kohl around my eyes,
and dares me to
say something.
I smile back until
my gums ache, tightening
my fist around the
red lipstick in my pocket.

This weekend,
I memorized saying “no”
in 24 different languages.
I imagined mixing them
into your breakfast cereal,
writing them into your mirror fog.
Each one runs carousels
in my mind until the space
between my legs becomes
dizzy from memory.
Each one is the mouth of a gun
to which my head is taped.
Each one
heavy with a power I still
do not feel entitled.

Tell Me This is Not a Problem | Ramna Safeer  (via maza-dohta)
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