Content note: this poem and my note afterwards discuss sexual assault.
Sing, Goddess, of the anger of Dr Christine Blasey Ford,
of all the other people wronged
and silent for too long.
No bronze greaves, no shield and spear,
no weapon but naked honesty,
the greater courage.
Sing, Goddess, and let them all be heard,
echoing in the halls of power,
echoing in the hearts of those who thought themselves safe,
echoing until they are answered with justice.
Sing, Goddess, when we cannot, sing
of the darkened rooms,
the hands over our mouths that we did not bite,
the reasons we did not scream,
the skirts too short, the drink too many,
that left us unbelieved.
Sing of the trusted man,
the friend, the lover,
who couldn’t be told no.
Sing of the stranger we simply feared.
Sing, Goddess, when we can,
when we stand up and say it,
when we’re questioned and denied,
when justice is not served.
Sing, Goddess, until you’re sick of it,
until one day they hear us.
Let us be louder every day.
Notes: I couldn’t get the opening of this out of my mind — borrowing from the opening of The Iliad to tell the story of #metoo, and how people are now trying to speak out. The reaction has often been frustrating, but more and more voices are speaking up. This is also a plea that they finally be heard.
And yes, #MeToo. I was 14, at a friend’s house, and a bunch of us were having a sleepover. It’d all gone quiet, most of us asleep, and he decided to put his hand in my underwear and touch me. I didn’t move or say anything, just waited for him to get tired of it; I remember feeling a whole lot of nothing. He just decided to do it, like he had a right to. I never confronted him, never told my parents or anything — I’m not sure I even told the other people who were there, then or later. I felt that it wouldn’t really matter to anyone, because there was no violence and no apparent cause for major trauma, and no evidence for what I’d said.
I don’t want to discuss it (now or later, with anyone). I just had to say it, now, into the space that women like Christine Blasey Ford have made — to do my part in opening up the gap a little more for more people to speak.