Trigger warning: This poem contains details about sexual assault which may be triggering to survivors.
Nine years ago,
the boy from the class next door,
made a mockery of my accent
while I fumbled to come up with the perfect retort.
Seven years ago,
the girls from the opposite benches
and their sniggers at me
for reasons I know naught.
Six years ago,
the pointed gestures and the slurs
directed at my unconventional gait
and the spunk I couldn’t gather to turn around
and look them in the eye.
Four years ago,
that boy who grabbed my butt
the wink he gave
and the slap I couldn’t give.
Three years ago,
the man with my grandfather’s eyes
but not his fingers as they slithered up my thigh
and the punch I couldn’t throw.
The apologies I never got
and the apologies I still wait for
Day in and day out
Year after year.
I left the wounds open for too long
and it hurts, it hurts,
not everyday, no
but like constant flashes of lightning, yes.
I look down,
the blood is still gushing out
from my hands, legs, chest
I reach out for the hands
that smell of achillea
and the ones that have known
the prick of roses.
I clean the dried blood
off my body.
There are times when it still bleeds
But I am learning to wade through it
Taking it all in, one breath at a time.
Jude Jose is a curious student who is trying to make sense of the reality around him while trying to find his space. You can reach him on Instagram @that_fem_pataka.