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Friday, October 14, 2016


by Megan Merchant

“Perhaps Trump is the ultimate gift to feminists: a grabber and bragger who has focused the world’s attention on the outrages women quietly endure on a chronic basis without notice. And perhaps we can now see the mid-90s response to Bill Clinton’s own accusers — subdued or defensive among liberals on account of his women-friendly politics — as a near miss of an opportunity, a cultural shift that could have built on the momentum of Anita Hill, but never did. The stories emerging about Trump, as well as his own words, could give women a new way of seeing their own experiences with sexual assault going forward — as part of a pattern of male behavior that has been noted, flagged and loudly denigrated.” —Susan, Dominus, The New York Times, October 13, 2016

There is a story that begins with a father
giving his son a bag of nails and instructions

to pound one into the fence with each flare of anger
and at first, there were more than three dozen,

then two, then a single day without a slip.
The son was proud, said “Dad, look.”

He nodded, continued “Now, for each day
you stay calm, pull a nail. What do you see ?”

A fence with scars.

And some in our country will say that’s
where the light gets through, or you won’t notice

if we build the fence bigger,
or the holes are there—get over it,

but the CDC has recorded that one in every five
women in our country is raped,

and that’s only what’s reported, their kits neatly
packaged, sit on a shelf, twenty deep to a bin.

The room stuffed with scars and swabs.
The nail hammered in, torn out.

And what if I told you that almost half
were before age eighteen. But numbers blur.

You think there can’t be that many, say hysteria,
drama, revenge, lying bitch.

So I ask, where does anger go ? If not packaged
in bullets and bombs, it stews in the mouth,

tingles down to hands. Drugs, rubs, robs.
Leaves holes.

Have you ever noticed the way women
walk in the dark ? Arms crossed over breasts,

clutching her body, because it is a thing that
can be taken.

If you are willing to listen,
you will learn the language of trauma.

A gospel of mirrors
and a man with a mouth full of nails

claiming words don’t matter. But they do.

Stories come into being to save lives.
To warn others from danger.

Anyone who has survived will tell you,

the human responsibility is to do more
than just listen.

Megan Merchant is mostly forthcoming. She is the author of two full-length poetry collections: Gravel Ghosts (Glass Lyre Press) The Dark’s Humming (Winner of the 2015 Lyrebird Prize, Glass Lyre Press, forthcoming 2017); four chapbooks and a forthcoming children’s book with Philomel Books. She lives in the tall pines of Prescott, Arizona.