- Slippage, and: The Interrogation, and: How I Failed to Stop the War, and: The Secret
When there was only land around hershe would feel her lungs compress,hear something gill-likein every word, reaching outwardfor the dark and wet of lake or river.
Many years, she lived like that: inland.By the end she could hardly speak.The man who touched her at night held onas if she might slip through his hands.
One night she slipped.She ran through the back fieldto the small black river in the valley below,more stream than river, and stepped in.It was a dream, yes, but so much more realthan anything he'd done to her.The way her hair swam about her headlike thin fish, thread fish, while she keptheading for the source, the mouth and eyethat would let her breathe again.
In the morning she said nothing when he toldof the strange noises she'd made.She looked at him: skin, meat, bone.He smelled of beer, rancor, other.The day tore away from her. [End Page 53]
The next day when she awoke,she watched his heavy armsflung up like wood on the bed. She rose quietly.It was like moving through water.Lifting her things from the hangars,opening the door,like moving through water.And when he heard her, rushed outto stop her, she watched him talk, his mouththe mouth of someone underwater.
Someone asks if I've forgiven my rapist.
If I were to sit down in a room with him,the first thing I'd say would have nothing to dowith forgiveness. I'd ask if he had to stranglewomen first in order to get hard. I'd askif he could tell how unhappy I was, how thinand unhappy, asleep in my single bedbefore he slid my pillow out from undermy head, removed the pillow case, slipped itover my head. I'd ask if he was surprisedI didn't wake up until the strangling began.
I'd ask what he thought of afterward,if he thought, if he even remembered whathe'd done. I'd ask why he wanted to knowmy name. I'd ask if his asking made it seemhe wasn't doing anything wrong, just beingfriendly, even though he'd already told mehe'd kill me if I didn't shut up. I'd askif he would have killed me if I hadn't shut up. [End Page 54]
I'd ask if he'd killed any of the others.
Even then, I wouldn't have mentionedforgiveness. Because to forgive him would belike forgiving wind for tearing down a tree.Like forgiving salt for making a wound shoutwith pain. Like forgiving time for neverreversing. Useless. Utterly useless. I'd askif he tried not to be violent, if he cried out fora mother or God not to forsake him, I'd askwhere he went to forget what he'd do again.
How I Failed to Stop the War
I found myself wantingnothing more than to leavemyself behind.
Of course I couldn't leave my bodybehind like a dog or a house,a life. But I tried. I stepped out of itlike a dress I'd let fall to the floor.Something silky, light, insubstantial.I was afraid of being so exposed,a lure for bear or cougar, subjectto cold rain, cold wind.
Soon I saw a bodyof water & stepped in.
The water made a kind of dressaround me, dark, silky.I waded out until its hem floated off& the water seeped into itself. [End Page 55]
I could see the vast not-me.I was afraid, yet giddy with exhilaration.
Then came boats crowded with people.Small boats, life boats. Many people,too many. Cries in languagesI had no key to open. I couldn't tellwhere the words arose—from withinor deep up through the water.On the long & anguished faces, I readHelp...