altars and mass graves | a poem, discarded and recollected

you told me to grin

touching me

hurting me

you told me to grin

*

I defended the cheating man

because he put his trust in me

because he turned a vice into a virtue in his mouth

and I believed them all since birth

they have raised my faithlessness

*

I blamed wives for not doing what they’re told

and men’s opinions turn my mouth acidic

betrayal knows a lot of forms

*

I was a child in a woman’s body

and they were men who wanted to play

I thought I knew how to

*

I was convinced that it must be her fault

if everything’s wrong with him

*

responsibility is a shirt worn and torn and overused

but sets itself on fire when it is asked to stand in sunlight

*

he slowed down the car

stopped the car

a street away from my house

I still pointed the finger at my house

his hand found my knee

the married man

I was still an employee

the voices of men who taught me

took over my facial features

don’t be rude

he drove you all the way home

be a nice girl

be a good girl

don’t you dare be rude, girl

grin, girl

even if it hurts

*

I don’t do silent pacts

*

they controlled my face

so it wouldn’t defend my body

*

the outside world can’t see the inside world

*

and it was conveyed to me early in life

that girls are dutiful

and duties overrule consent

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2021 | Instagram: @melpomenepaintings

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