A little while ago,

Another poet asked me for the name of my abuser

They said this was to protect their friends

So I told them I didn’t want to

I thought I had to 

It’s just that I have heard so much about survival

Like I should not lie

If I’m going to cry, I must name it

“Don’t be another girl making another mountain out of another molehill”

I have heard so much about strength

So much about how the voice is a redemption 

How to speak is to heal

Sometimes I feel like everyone just wants the resurrection story out of me

The parts of my survival I know how to make useful

I am so ashamed of all that which I do not say

Sometimes I don’t want to talk about it

I don’t want to write a poem about it

I don’t want to tell my mom

I don’t want anyone to look at me like I am brave

Or like I am a little bird with a broken wing

Or to look at me at all

Sometimes my heart is breaking

And other times, I am just tired

I have spent so much time at war with my silence

I have forgotten everything she has done for me

When I was terrified to speak

When my abuser was in the audience at a slam 

When they talked to me after

When my silence met theirs 

When this poet demanded a name of me

When my stomach was nothing but a mass of fear and obligation

My silence took my hand 

Squeezed it gently as if to say “You owe them nothing”

“I am here if you need me”

Speak only if you want to”

So to you, quiet child 

Who has kept everything just inside your mouth for whatever reason

I see you even when you say nothing

I believe you

I believe that you are scared 

I believe that it hurts

I believe that it happened

I believe that you loved them

I believe that you didn’t 

I believe that you still do

I believe you are confused about forgiveness and justice

Believe me, quiet child

You are doing nothing wrong 

There is no right or wrong here

There is only your choice

you speak when you are ready  

I promise your silence has not set a caged beast free

You did not release a monster

You survived me

Trust me

Quiet child,

I know of a girl before me

I do not blame her silence

I do not blame her

My silence

Here’s this poem looks at me, teary-eyed and says 

I say

I’m sorry I hated you

I always thought you were the weakest part of me

The part that needed the most forgiveness

But no

You are the first one who never asked me to prove anything

The only one who believed me

Before I spoke

And after

And now 

When my silence takes my hand

I squeeze back 

I say I know

I say thank you

And I mean it.






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