Backstage: A Poem

You want me to sit still, sit quietly,

Behave, opposite you, let your hands

Do the trick, behave, let you in, behave,

Let you do what you want to do, please,

You, displease me, doesn’t matter, now, in

That moment, you, I don’t matter, you, do.


Ah, yes, that is the biggest lesson you taught me.

My pain wasn’t real. Yours weighed the world.

I had no reason to frown. I had you. I had food on

The table, my ancestors’ hands between my thighs.

No reason to be so, so sad. Why not try to smile?

What is it now? So hard to please, so ungrateful.

Your favourite words. Sacrifice. Oh, what about mine?


I wasn’t consulted. You sent me to people who

Were supposed to analyse me, read me, help me.

I was sent to them. As you were prepping me, courting me,

Grooming me from the very beginning, to be compliant,

To be subservient and docile, accommodating, my body,

Opening up, opened up by you, by a force with a smile on its face,

I couldn’t run away, you were my home, you were my home.


Nobody ever looked at you, in question, and if they

Did and saw certain things, they kept their mouth shut,

Oh why, oh why, yes, it goes that far back, it runs that deep,

And you don’t want me to be so angry and vicious, me. in

Reaction to you and your unclaimed actions, not here, but there

In the circles of your friends and other men and abusive women,

Oh, you are quite the hero there, two worlds my body lives in,

Surviving the undercurrent, spat back up and out, washed, rinsed,

Shoved back in, charmed, all hands on deck, sizzling the sound

Of my body losing its own voice, and I received the stamp on my

Forehead that I was deviant, that I was insane, I was a child, a liar, and

Nobody paid attention to you, the home I went back to.

woman in black dress sitting on black chair
Photo by cottonbro on


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