(previously published in Moonchild Magazine)
This is what I think when I open my eyes
each morning, when I close them at night.
Everyone is a predator and I am starting to lose
trust in even my closest friends.
They say hello after a period of silence
and I think, What do you want from me? I can’t avoid
the news, especially here in Los Angeles,
where every day you’re reminded of what you
already knew: there are no heroes. All your favorites
are problematic. I made my husband take down
my American Beauty poster even though it’s been
my favorite movie since I was a teenager and
had to be dragged out of it by my shoulders
as I sobbed and sobbed, thinking maybe there could
be so much beauty in this world.
Everyone is a predator and I know it because I
can’t turn on a computer without a man
on the other side of the country writing about
raping me, and forcing me to devour our rape-
babies. Why are words so scary to you he jeers
and they’re not really scary, they’re just gross
and sad and remind me of Jeff S. who held me
down in his basement bedroom and raped
me while my best friend waited impatiently
in the other room, waited so long she was angry with me
and I didn’t have the heart to tell her what had happened.
And then my mother, years later: That happens to everyone.
I ask the cop assigned to my case, the case about these poems
and the man writing them, Can you maybe just let him know
that I don’t care if he wants to feed me babies,
I’d just rather not be reminded of my life in Methuen.
Everyone is a predator and there are people
who want you to believe that predators can change,
if you just give them the benefit of the doubt and I
have to explain that I don’t have it in me to give anyone
the benefit of the doubt anymore, it’s just not feasible
as a woman to give anyone the benefit of the doubt.
It’s just not safe. You have to look at it from my point
of view, I say. As someone who was raped, as someone
who was once almost murdered. And my friend says,
I never thought of it that way. Well,
of course not.
At night though, or in the morning, my husband
presses against me in his sleep, and I turn to him
and he opens his eyes and smiles his crinkle eye smile
and I feel things stir in me that I don’t want to tell him
I have been having a hard time feeling lately. And in those moments
I am calmed, his hitching breath and his hands that I love
to hold in my hands are on the small of my back, or
gently circling my wrists. And in those moments I am calmed,
his fluttering lashes and his mouth on my collarbone.
And in those moments I am calmed, and I can never tell him
that the feeling never lasts; that once he is dressing for work
I am tired again, I am scared again.
Everyone is a predator and he can’t fix it
and I can’t fix it, either.