The Path

I wrote this poem after being told a friend had been brutally raped by two men. Heavy-hearted, I wrote this for her, and for my dear friends who are also Survivors of sexual assault.

I’m thinking about my friend.

My friend who was raped last night.

Last week.

Last year.

Last decade.

Last teenhood.

I’m thinking about how I can now lose count of how many have been raped. Their wrists held down. Their mouths silenced. The judgment of so many.

Why’d you drink so much?
Why did you ask him to drive you home?
What did you think would happen?
Who else was there to witness?
How did you let this happen?

I can’t create anymore tshirts for the Clothesline Project. I can’t stand up anymore at Take Back the Night rallies. I can’t read anymore from Incite! newsletters. I can’t advocate the system anymore or read Trauma and Recovery one more time. Because as much as I want to say I’m not, I’m weak and wilting from this battle.

Another rape. Another.
Not a client, or one of my students, nor a hotline caller, but a friend. A person I laugh with, drink with, both casually and deeply love. She has been raped.

I’m dying with you. Inside.

I can explain

I can offer

Who’ll believe you?
Only a few.

This is all I have for you

More stories so you know that you are not alone. A place of comfort and horror is knowing you are not the only one. And I’m sorry, but I can take you there. A place where so many find haven, a cemetary where you can bury the person who died that night. A place where you can remember the terror, the agony; how it went on and on; how no one heard you; how he…they…never stopped. You may not know this, but you’ll spend much of your time preparing for this place.

You may resist. You not want to go right now. And I will never make you go there until you’re ready.

But at some point, you will. Everyone does, no matter how you try to escape it. No matter how tight you sqeeze your eyes shut or the blankets in your hand. Rape is the poison, but the aftermath…that’s when it begins to flow into your body, life.

It’s not that he…they… were that strong,
but the memory
the nightmares
the gnawing
the groanings
the memories will not be released.

At this cemetary, you will carve out a place in the ground and lay her in the tomb. Everything will tremble. You’ll say good-bye to that beautiful, lovely person who you so want to be again, but cannot return to. You will scratch stones to commemorate her strengths and will. You’ll cry fast, lonely tears that consecrate the covering soil.

You’ll see the other grave stones and eventually your eyes will adjust to see the millions of others who are buried there.
Scattered. Everywhere.
Some are slowly digging, their hands dirty.
Others are still consecrating, weeping on their knees.
Some silent. Others wailing.

There’s an eyeful view of the Others,
all the Others
beyond your sight
beyond belief
that lay underneath

You can stay for however long you need. You’re allowed to come back and visit her, but I don’t think you’ll want to. Once you walk away, you’ll want to keep moving, out of the fog and into the wind.

I’m sorry, but there is nothing else I have but the path, this way, this knowledge of the cemetary. I will take you when you are ready. Tomorrow may be too soon. Tomorrow may not be soon enough. It may take months, maybe years. I’ll wait for you.

You bury
not the memory
not the pain
but the power of the past.

You will replace it
with the power of today,
strength, conviction,
and knowledge.

And you will be a Survivor, not a raped womyn, not a case report number, not a witness. A Survivor.

A person, a human, who refused to die. Who fought and endured and embodies the things that we all aspire to someday possess.

Readiness. Truthfulness. Faith.

I will wait for you, my friend.
Until you’re ready.

I will walk you there,
but you won’t need me coming back.

4 thoughts on “The Path

  1. Anonymous

    a poetic expression and exercise in therapy needed for so many women. thank you for your anger, your comfort, your witness

  2. AWE

    Thanks bfp and anna, I’m glad you enjoyed it.

    Go ahead and link, anna! The more people that understand the devastation of rape, the better. It’s just another form of activism, in poetry.

    thanks again.

  3. Anna

    Absolutely wonderful post – in an awful kind of way. Your eloquent words bear witness to the pain of many. I am so sorry about your friend.

    Would you mind if a I post a link to this post of yours on my blog? I wrote about rape on my own blog recently but not so eloquently as you.


  4. brownfemi

    painfully beautiful sudy–i’ve been coming back to this over and over.
    thank you so much for writing it–and i send lots of power and healing love to *r

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