Jeff Ruane CC
--After Emily Dickinson
They stuffed dirt in her mouth so she wouldn´t talk
but they needn´t have worried. Afterwards, she lost
all her words, as if they had tumbled out of her mind
in a moment of distraction, like loose coins falling out
of a pocket, or petals spiraling toward the earth.
Even before she reached home, she had pulled silence
over her face like a veil, her features so blank, so gray,
at dinner her parents pondered what storm had passed
through her. They didn´t pry, presumed their daughter
was entangled in some sort of teenage love saga,
figured she´d find a way to loosen the knot.
In a sense, they were right, love had set the events
in motion: the note, intended for the girl two desks over,
intercepted. The ambush at the creek. The blindfold,
superfluous, since it didn´t obscure their voices.
The slurs as they held her down, raped her one by one.
It was their duty, they said, to right a sexual wrong.
How could she ever fish those words out of the water,
toss them in her backpack, bring them home to be
cooked? Instead, she mastered the art of body language.
A shrug could mean I don’t know or I don´t care.
A nod conveyed compliance, desire, or when her memories
short-circuited and her mind flickered off, pleasure.
A head shake translated to a thousand variations of no.
By summer she had found solace in music, the heavier the better,
the kind that cracked wall paint, knocked plates off shelves,
thundered the voices out of her head. She made no apologies
for bellowing lyrics as raw as the ache they had left
between her legs. What did it matter that the psychiatrist
devised a fancy interpretation of the slashes on her wrists?
It irked her, the way he scrawled a not admitting of the wound
in the space below her name, a mere fragment bereft
of a subject, a figure floating around without
a head. She would have told him so before sprinting
out of his office, but her words were still snagged on shrubs,
twisted around vines, buried in soil. That´s where they found
her, an empty bottle of sleeping pills in her hand and a letter
in her pocket that began: once upon a time, I loved a girl.
Julie Weiss found her way back to poetry in 2018 after slipping into a nearly two-decade creative void. In 2020, she was a finalist in Alexandria Quarterly´s first line poetry contest series, as well as a finalist for The Magnolia Review´s Ink Award. Recent work appears in ArLiJo, Random Sample Review (Best of the Net Nomination, 2019), Sheila-Na-Gig online, The Blue Nib, and Kissing Dynamite Poetry, and she has poems in a handful of anthologies, as well. Originally from California, she works as a telephone English teacher in Spain, where she lives with her wife, 5-year-old daughter, and 2-year-old son. You can find her on Twitter @colourofpoetry or on her website at https://julieweiss2001.wordpress.com/.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.