trigger warning: rape, abuse

She whispers it
and the tail end of that long, long vowel sound
wavers and moans like a worn floorboard.

You sidestep around it,
feeling your way along,
and when it comes again —


— you stifle it with your teeth,
sheathed beneath the suffocating press of your lips.

She is a child,
collects stuffed animals
is captured by your charm
and cowed by your condescension —

but she’s got calluses on her hands
scars on her shoulders

her legs are not shapely but sturdy,
with scarred knees and soles.

Soft and small,
she bares her teeth at you
but her tongue sticks on the consonant,
and before she can form the word


you’re prying her open,
and she’s a tightly closed fist,
the jaw of an animal,
easy enough to break