Thursday, 24 September 2015

Sometimes I call you mine (content note: contains discussion of sexual assault)

Sometimes I call you my rapist,
and that feels wrong somehow,
but I cannot keep saying the woman who raped me
every time I mention you,
and cannot say your name

I only know your first name anyway,
and in saying even that I turn accuser
and am too aware how easily my case could be undone,

an accuser who’d been drinking when it happened;
an accuser who’d consented, at the start;
an accuser who, at the time, was presenting as male:
an accuser who’d be bound to fail, in court.

So I, out of need for variation, name you mine:
My rapist. It feels wrong. Too intimate
somehow, suggests collusion, a joint enterprise
between us. It takes two,
they say. Two, babe: me. You.

It smacks of going steady and those creepy ‘50s love songs:
Every night, I hope and pray
this fear will go away,

but I cannot say your name, and
the woman who raped me sounds clunky and anyway
is legally someone who can’t exist:
English law defines rape as an act
committed only by the male. It’s sexual assault
when women do it. As if the two are easily distinguished,
but the woman who sexually assaulted me
is clunkier still than the woman the law calls impossible,

so, sometimes, you are my rapist,
and I wonder if, in some sense, that is true:
was I the only one? You seemed surprised
that I said no. Was it shock that spurred you on
as much as malice? Or instead of it?
And do I want that? Does it make you better,
or me special, if it was only the once?

It doesn’t matter if I’m one or one of many.
I may call you my rapist but we know that isn’t true.
Whatever law or rumour says, whoever else there was,

you were never mine. You were the rapist I ran into.

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