We gave this room a purpose.
I tied my hair back.
With the same hand you touched my skin and I couldn’t feel a thing.
You brushed it and wanted to release it.
I felt ill in fact, too nervous to swallow.
You dressed me beautifully.
I thought to be this anxious, tongue-tied was the excitement of it all, normal.
You guided me into the lion’s den.
The radiator didn’t keep us warm.
You pulled and pulled my hair, adjusted my face and cheeks.
Your chapped lips is what I would get.
You drove me around in a corset.
I ran around blindly, choosing blindly.
Who belonged to me?
Who craved what I had to offer?
And you carve my features, dig into them.
Did you smell me, look at me, apprehend my body?
I felt like I ignored all the red traffic lights.
The left grabbed my ear, the right poked the flesh on my throat.
There is your vibrating tongue in the middle,
The cheeks and jaw going back and forth.
You sting. Your skin stings. Your face is a razorblade.
I lie there and look into the upward spiral.
That means I’m one with the ground, the bottom.
My spine laid bare.
I let you in and thought the world would change.
What would make a woman out of me?
Could it be a person other than me?
I shut my eyes and clenched my teeth,
The dresses you put me in, the bruises on my knees.
I put up a good act.
After you’ve accomplished my deformation.
After you’ve drummed it into me.
The funnel of your words burning themselves down my oesophagus,
My heart, the terminal, never had they been digested.
You made sure they reached the right organ.
For a long time you poisoned every breath of me.
But, you forgot that the heart is a muscle,
And I trained that muscle well, it has a memory as sharp as your blades,
And you can harm me no more.
“Portrait of Sarah Bernhardt” by Gustave Doré (1832-1883)