I’ve heard of it happening to other women
And other women say they’ve heard it happens
But thought it could not happen to them,
Or that, if it did, they would fight for justice
Whatever it took, and I’ve heard of it taking
Several years to come to nothing,
Several years along with the rest.
Since it happened to me, I’ve heard me saying
I’d heard this sort of thing could happen
To thousands of women, but I never thought
It could happen to somebody such as myself,
And then I heard me demanding justice
Whatever it took. Now it is taking
The rest of my life to come to nothing,
The rest of my life along with the rest.
What seems to be the problem is this:
That I was completely alone when it happened.
I don’t mean alone in the room with him,
Alone with him I mean really alone,
Alone with nothing. There was no witness.
I am a victim and cannot be witness.
One must play one role or the other.
If I bore witness I’d not be a victim,
He would be victim, if he had been there,
And if he’d been there then he would be witness
Against himself, but I was alone. Alone
With nothing. The window was open.
The wind and the rain were driving in,
The facts of life, lifting the curtains,
And I was asleep. I don’t know when.
What happens now is I make a confession
Confess, though I am the victim here,
To having the most incredible dreams
I believed were real, as long as they lasted;
To having had dreams I believed were ended
When the end was only a part of the dream,
The part where you wake in your own bedroom
Glad to be woken, till the door creaks
And whatever it was you were running from
Walks right in. I confess to recurring
Dreams in which my room is haunted
That seem more real than my waking life,
To a ghost who comes in the form of a pressure
Imprisoning me, by sternum and shoulders
And thighs, as if I were caught under glass.
Here you will ask if I ever protested,
Pushed him away, or cried for help,
If I fought my end, if I offered resistance
And made him aware of my lack of desire
With words he could readily comprehend,
In the face of his power, tearing my slip
Aside without touching, without coming near,
If I spoke though I was unable to speak
Or moved though I was unable to move,
Unable even to turn my head
In darkness, whether I happened to see
A distinguishing feature, or felt like revealing
If he was a stranger or someone I know,
And I’ll tell you again that I witnessed nothing
More than I’ve mentioned, and nothing less.
I know what you’re thinking. This isn’t a crime.
A crime requires a perpetrator
To put in the dock, to accuse or defend,
To finish the plot, but there’s nobody here.
Years ago, there would have been bodies,
Physical bodies at which I could point
And call them up to account for their cells
Under my nails, their spit on my neck,
But now they’ve learned to walk through walls.
If I could give you a face or a name
We’d have a dynamic. And yet if I did,
This still would not be considered a crime
Of a certain order, but something less,
Something one should take on the chin,
Something that could have been worse.
Now, am I sleeping, or am I awake?
This court seems more like the court of a dream
I visit each night, improperly dressed,
In which I am doomed to repeat myself
And in the repeating I doom myself
Before these hundred unfriendly faces
To find no relief in the fall of the gavel
Which never arrives. A dream alright,
A dream of running. The limbs refuse,
The air resists with the slowness of water,
The mind outpaces the body and sees
A child falling but fails to react,
As I saw what was coming but failed to react,
Locked inside my sleeping body.
I’ll never release myself from that.