Writing by Veronica Marks // Illustration by Edith Isabel
I have been in endless circles
of girls chanting, “me too.”
we squeeze hands and share stories
Catholic schoolgirls at Confession,
“it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, it’s not your fault, me too.”
by the third circle
I realize “I am not a man”
has a logline:
I share my story like makeup.
the first time it was like
pulling a string out of your stomach through your mouth.
I was 15. he was 18. it was, um, a party.
I was 11. he was, um, a counselor.
but when I examine my life under the same lens and
see so many other nights for what they were, remember never saying “yes”
suddenly, the stories come easier,
no longer That Time but just the most extreme
of an anthology:
eyes go dead
when a man is shocked.
“wait, so like, all of you? geez. wow.”
I wish we did not have to lay ourselves bare for them
(and I wish the lone boys
could have circles:
I become numb. I forget most men
have different circles
where the air is lighter and more sinister:
my facebook feed: another circle,
with an audience.
not a play, though. a cooking show,
cutting ourselves open and drizzling tears onto the plate.
here is my pain. here is my sadness. are you moved yet?? are you moved??
victims, we feel like the weight of the world
rests on what we say.
if we speak up he goes to jail if we speak up she never does it again if we speak up we can make them feel
less alone if we speak up speak up speak up speak up
we have been through enough.
it is their turn to form a circle.
the time they excused something,
the time they said nothing,
the time they did it themselves.
and realize like me
it is not That Time but so many times,
woven into the fabric of our lives.