Posts Tagged ‘sexual assault’

Hi friends–before you read the poem, a little note about content. 

It’s Teen Love & Consent week here in Telluride, and lots of difficult conversations are happening about statistics and setting boundaries. At the same time, some difficult news about teen sexual assault has been in our local papers. And so this poem was born. Because it’s so far out of the realm of my normal content, I wanted to give you the ability to not read the poem. It’s not graphic, but it’s not easy to read either. It’s farther down the page. 

I realize as I send this what a roller coaster you signed up for when you subscribed to the daily poems, and I thank you for meeting me every day with the all of it. It means so much to me, your presence, thank you. 

with great respect, 

What Goes Unspoken

with gratefulness for the girls who spoke out

On the table, the tulips are opening,
splaying in effortless pink delight,
an homage to how soft things can bring so much pleasure,
and I think of how you once scolded me for picking flowers,
saying it was better to leave them as they were.

That was years ago,
when I traveled to see you on Cape Cod.
You were a tennis pro
and I was the girl who thought I could come to love you.
I had gone for a walk in the woods
and picked you a small bouquet.
Violets, perhaps, and something small and white.

I didn’t know then that I was a tulip.
We’d flirted. You seemed kind.
I never thought you would—
never imagined I was—
never dreamt when I said no you wouldn’t—

Mostly I left my body.
I remember staring at the windowsill while you—
I’d put the flowers in a jar. They were purple and white.
How could you defend the flowers and yet—
I didn’t open for you and you cut—
I was a stem when I left.

It’s been years since I remembered you,
but there was an article in the paper this week
about a boy here who—
Eleven girls spoke out.
How many girls did you—
I never said a word.
I have a girl now, too.

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Dear poetry friends,


I’ve never before posted a poem here on A Hundred Falling Veils by someone else, but I was so moved by this poem written this week by my poetry student and friend Phyllis Klein that I asked her if I could post it here, and she agreed.


I’m particularly moved by the way that she tells this story in a way that is clearly apropos to this week’s news, but is also so universal.


Dedicated to Christine and all survivors.




Life is Glass

–Phyllis Klein


There are so many fragile things, after all. 

People break so easily, and so do dreams and hearts.

Neil Gaiman, Fragile Things




Breaking:  Buzz of a bone fractured, burst of a bowl hitting the floor,

boom of a heart splitting. Please like me. A dream as it shatters.

Please think I’m good. Whistle of a word as it severs from itself into the air.

Of a scream demolished.


Moments of breaking:

Hand over the mouth, gagging, pushed into a room, door locked from

the inside. Parties, drinking. Why did I do that? The seconds it takes to get

lost. Smash of consciousness as it disappears. Disillusion’s waking

croak. Where are my clothes? Fragmentation into terror.


How it happens:  remembering, forgetting. Was I drugged?

After school, at a party, pungency of impact, taste without

permission. No proof. In the sacristy, in a back seat, a hotel

or a bedroom, did it happen?


Breaking: dust of collision, whiff of dreams burning, nightmares strike,

cymbals snarl in the brain. I’m repulsive. Floating above it

all in a disappeared body.


Why she didn’t tell: Pretend. It didn’t happen.

No one will swallow it. He threatened, laughed, was stronger, bigger.

It’s my fault. They won’t believe me. Pretend. Have to see him sneer.

Hide it.


What happens next: Cracks. Panic, a plane taking off in the gut.

Armor, as involuntary as neurons saying run but all there is is a

wall. Looking ok, nobody knows. Get over it. What is PTSD? The thing

that won’t leave, the image, the smell, the taste that’s a plague.


The crush of shame. Lack of sleep. When is it over?

Feeling it, numbing it. Not understanding yet that greatness

comes from damage.

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