Blythe Baird – Live at Icehouse MPLS

By Button Poetry

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Transcript provided by YouTube:

00:08
[Applause]
00:17
hi my darlings thank you so much wow
00:26
thank you guys so well hold on I have to
00:28
adjust this thank you I appreciate you
00:39
guys thank you guys so much for coming
00:41
out
00:41
I’m really excited for tonight I’m
00:43
really excited about this book and also
00:45
those opening performers Fatima and Nick
00:47
that was amazing yeah so thank you guys
00:51
so much I started writing poetry when I
00:56
was 16 and I was like the kind of high
00:58
school kid that didn’t give a about
00:59
anything I was like I just want to stay
01:01
at home and smoke weed that’s all I
01:03
wanted to do and nothing really mattered
01:05
to me and when poetry came into my life
01:08
everything started to matter cuz I was
01:10
gonna write about it
01:11
so that was really powerful for me um
01:14
well I’m a little jittery thanks guys
01:18
for for just thanks hmm I’m doing this
01:25
new thing where I like to start my shows
01:27
with a little call and response so I’m
01:29
gonna say some and I want you to
01:30
say it back I am powerful
01:33
I am significant I am unstoppable I am a
01:42
bad bitch yes you are
01:46
thus are
02:01
it was the year we woke up holding hands
02:03
like otters do she mentions I would look
02:07
cute with a gap so I stopped wearing my
02:09
retainer altogether when she tells me
02:12
that she loves me and that she has a
02:14
lying problem on the same day I know I
02:19
am completely and utterly she
02:24
convinces me to watch Star Wars with her
02:26
and then she doesn’t even watch it she
02:27
watches me watching it to make sure I’m
02:29
reacting properly
02:30
I read her daily horoscope to her while
02:32
she gets ready even though she doesn’t
02:34
believe in it she at least tries to act
02:36
interested in astrology and tarot cards
02:38
and all that other hippy dippy trippy
02:40
I believe in but can’t prove I fall
02:42
in love with her quickly the way she
02:44
wanted me to all skin and palm and Diet
02:47
Coke listening to Regina Spektor on her
02:49
bed while she calls me baby girl and
02:52
plays with my hair when I find a boy’s
02:55
hair in the rough drafts of her poems I
02:57
pretend not to when I asked her what she
03:01
loved about him
03:02
she says I know this is bad but he was
03:05
so terrible to me I never ran out of
03:08
things to write about I wonder if she
03:11
wants a lover or a writing prompt there
03:14
is a certain hi to hating yourself she
03:17
told me once I try not to point out the
03:19
irony as she explains how unhealthy our
03:21
relationship is between drags over
03:23
cigarette when she takes me on a date to
03:25
the same rink she used to roller skate
03:27
at with her last love I do not sob when
03:30
she apologizes for the way he still
03:32
holds the only spare key to her hurt I
03:34
assure her it is no problem I try not to
03:37
be jealous of his sheer good fortune I
03:40
do not hate him for becoming the flood
03:42
in my backyard I do not hate myself for
03:45
falling in love with the drought dressed
03:47
like a girl but I do hate myself for
03:49
falling in love with feeling loved
03:52
years later she is drunk when she tells
03:55
me loving you is the kindest thing I
03:59
almost did and how impossible it is to
04:04
train the heart to sit the last time she
04:08
shouts at me my name foams madly in her
04:10
mouth she tells me I don’t know how to
04:12
love anyone with my whole
04:14
and all at once I feel so stupid and so
04:17
small as I tell her well I don’t know
04:18
how to not in an effort to get her to
04:21
stay I promised her I will be whatever
04:26
you want me to be she tells me that is
04:30
the problem thank you
04:32
[Applause]
04:45
this girl slid into my DMS recently and
04:49
she was like what’s a bitch gotta do to
04:50
get a poem written about her and I’m
04:52
like you either can just break my
04:54
heart or you can venmo me $40 my
05:09
mother looks at me like I have grown
05:11
tentacles before her eyes even though
05:12
I’m pretty sure I look the same as I did
05:14
five seconds ago when she thought my
05:16
suit jacket was just professional before
05:19
she discovers I am hella gay the first
05:26
time I heard the word it dropped
05:27
casually on the radio in the car with my
05:29
mom the summer before fourth grade it
05:31
dripped down the air conditioner so
05:33
noticeably I couldn’t help but ask if
05:36
gay was a bad thing she explained it’s
05:40
not necessarily a bad thing it just
05:42
isn’t our thing years later I am
05:46
seventeen half daughter half apology all
05:49
fire in the wrong kind of love when my
05:51
mother asked if I am gay I tell her I am
05:54
sorry when she asks how can you possibly
05:58
love something that looks just like you
06:00
do I wonder how long she has hated
06:03
herself I convinced myself I could pick
06:06
up being straight like a sport I just
06:08
need to practice I just need to set my
06:09
mind to it I just need to convince my
06:11
mom to want to be my mom again she sent
06:14
me an email with the subject line are
06:15
you being gay for attention I am drunk
06:18
with shame for hiding this unsanitary
06:20
secret in the same closet as her clean
06:23
linens she wants to know when I knew and
06:26
I wish I could tell her something simple
06:27
like since swim class to the locker room
06:29
or maybe maybe since the first day of
06:31
junior high when I sat behind Shannon
06:33
Whittle and smelled her Herbal Essences
06:34
shampoo my mother is old enough to be my
06:39
grandmother as a child she would sing to
06:42
me every night blithe I wished on a
06:45
million stars for you how could I not
06:48
mistake the ceiling of her love for the
06:51
sky and she tried to braid flowers in my
06:54
hair asked if ever
06:55
friend was a boyfriend didn’t mind if I
06:57
brought home a bruised wrist as long as
06:59
it meant I still had a prom date she
07:01
would rather take a photo of me wincing
07:03
with a boy than of me smiling with a
07:05
girl my mom insists her opinion
07:08
shouldn’t mean anything to me because
07:10
when has her opinion ever meant anything
07:11
to me and she is only one person in the
07:14
grand scheme of things so I know her
07:16
opinion is not the ocean but even if the
07:19
harbor isn’t very deep people drown in
07:22
their own bathtubs would she still have
07:25
wished for me if she knew I wasn’t going
07:27
to love the way she taught me to my mom
07:30
and says she doesn’t mind the glitter
07:31
just the mess it’s left all over the
07:34
house she doesn’t mind my sexuality just
07:37
how it sticks to the furniture she is
07:40
not angry with me just exhausted now
07:44
there’s so much to clean up before we
07:47
have company thank you
08:00
this is cute right I like it I hope you
08:05
do too I’m gonna read some poems from
08:08
the book
08:10
[Applause]
08:21
this poem is called taxidermy I learned
08:25
love as taxidermy the careful art of
08:29
keeping alive a dead thing this is the
08:33
part that always hurts to write but how
08:36
can I not when this is my story just as
08:38
much as it is my mother’s this is what
08:41
it is to love something sharp to love
08:43
the woman who built you even if she
08:45
didn’t do it in all the right ways even
08:48
if I have to remind myself she doesn’t
08:50
have to like me even if the house is
08:53
still burning on the street I grew up on
08:56
she is the street I grew up on
09:00
[Applause]
09:15
[Music]
09:23
the summer after sixth grade a blood
09:26
rose blooms through the pleat of my
09:28
crisp white Bermuda shorts while I am on
09:30
stage playing the dog catcher in a local
09:33
production of lady in the Tramp
09:35
mortified I go home but at home there is
09:38
no one to talk to you about period so I
09:40
let shame eclipse my dilemma I am
09:43
terrified to ask anyone in my family an
09:45
uncomfortable question so I sneak into
09:48
the bathroom like a burglar and grab a
09:50
fistful of my older sister’s pads I
09:52
taught myself to do what the women in my
09:54
family do ball up the wreckage of our
09:57
blood in layers and layers of toilet
09:59
paper and bury it in the bottom of the
10:01
trash like a cadaver even then I
10:04
understood the unspoken sentiment it
10:08
would be gross and inappropriate for my
10:10
father or brother to ever see the messy
10:12
truth of my body I consulted Google and
10:15
read an article that said now I am
10:18
officially a woman and I wonder if being
10:20
a woman has always been associated with
10:22
hiding pain in the junior high locker
10:28
room I learned that the verdict is in
10:30
and pads are not cool and therefore
10:33
neither am i so I try to figure out the
10:35
rocket science complexities of a tampon
10:37
but I’m too overwhelmed by guilt to read
10:39
the instructions so I just wing it which
10:41
fails
10:42
I’m reluctantly returned to stuffing fat
10:44
cotton gondolas between my thighs and
10:47
then then in sophomore year of high
10:48
school Spanish class I whisper ask if
10:51
anyone has a pad which makes katie and
10:52
veronica gasp so i explained that to you
10:54
buses don’t really work for me that one
10:56
time i try a deep breath still splash my
10:58
underwear like ink and besides i heard
11:00
you weren’t supposed to feel it and i
11:03
definitely felt the plastic part in that
11:07
hurt Katie said lol what do you mean the
11:10
plastic part hurt and Veronica said um
11:12
do you mean the applicator oMG you do
11:14
know you have to take that part off
11:16
right and they both Frost in two
11:18
giggling bubble baths and by that they
11:21
meant how could you possibly not know
11:23
this
11:25
[Applause]
11:50
sometimes I miss being sick the grimy is
11:55
part of me wishes I had stayed in that
11:57
familiar city of gray and mental illness
12:00
and whatever the opposite of healing is
12:02
where there was nothing to laugh about
12:04
but plenty to write about I’ve
12:07
considered myself to be recovered from
12:09
my eating disorder for three years
12:11
but I still read about it in present
12:13
tense when a friend at dinner makes a
12:15
casual comment on calories the
12:17
scoreboard in my head illuminates with
12:19
numbers again and for once I don’t want
12:22
to write about this for the first time I
12:24
am embarrassed
12:25
instead of proud of all of the mad
12:27
things I have done for happiness once I
12:30
cut a ribbon the size I wanted to be and
12:32
wore it around my waist like a bracelet
12:34
bathroom scales make me feel nostalgic
12:36
like a scrapbook I flipped through
12:38
snapshots of my sickness the suppers of
12:40
tobacco smoke in red lipstick or how I
12:42
used to pack my lunch box with floss and
12:45
teeth whitening strips sometimes I still
12:48
paint my nails when I’m hungry I can’t
12:51
eat until the polish is dry I don’t want
12:54
to go into any more detail because what
12:56
if you mistake this poem for an
12:58
instruction manual I don’t know how to
13:00
talk about the rabbit hole without
13:02
accidentally inviting you to follow me
13:04
down it when recovery is not all yoga
13:07
mats and tea and avocados it is work it
13:11
is remembering that sucking on ice cubes
13:14
does not count as upper-body forgive me
13:16
it is not healthy to drink so much water
13:19
that your body becomes a bathtub your
13:21
organs float in like loofas body forgive
13:23
me trying to ignore the caloric
13:26
calculator in my head is like trying to
13:28
ignore television subtitles and
13:30
sometimes I just can’t body
13:31
forgive me killing yourself slowly is
13:35
still killing yourself wanting to die is
13:38
not the same as wanting to come home
13:41
recovery is hard work not wanting to die
13:45
is hard work once every time you asked
13:49
if I was full I heard you say fat but
13:51
I’m trying so hard not to do that I am
13:54
trying not to search for the nutrition
13:56
label on the back of a birthday candle
13:58
box I am trying not to dab my pizza with
14:00
the napkin I’m trying to stop doing
14:02
things that don’t make
14:03
any sense body forgive me I’m trying I’m
14:06
trying I’m still trying
14:09
[Applause]
14:27
you haven’t heard this next poem before
14:29
because I haven’t ever done it it’s
14:32
called it didn’t always salivate over
14:34
skeletons I come over to play at my
14:38
friend’s house and the chandelier of
14:39
bones answers the door I can see each
14:43
careful metal detail of her braces
14:45
poking clearly through the skin above
14:47
her top lip she steps on a Wii Fit
14:50
balance board and she is so late that
14:53
the system cannot even detect a body she
14:57
and I used to be fat together we shared
15:00
hole pans of brownies while our mothers
15:02
shared concerns regarding our weight we
15:05
understood the many ways a mother’s
15:07
shame can haunt a daughter’s body an
15:09
image of this friend at a waterpark in
15:12
seventh grade is still imprinted in my
15:14
mind in this memory she jumps up
15:17
jangling her arms and legs in excitement
15:20
when she does this she looks exactly
15:23
like those flat skeletons hung over
15:25
front doors during Halloween the kind
15:28
where you yank the string at the top of
15:30
its skull causing its glow-in-the-dark
15:31
bones to clink and Clank like chimes for
15:35
years after this was the last moment I
15:39
can remember seeing an emaciated body
15:41
and feeling worried
15:43
instead of envy
15:46
[Applause]
16:08
I’m gonna do this Bowman that I’m gonna
16:09
tell you a quick funny story about this
16:11
bowl it’s called theories about the
16:14
universe I’m trying to see things in
16:17
perspective my dog wants a bite of my
16:20
peanut butter chocolate chip bagel I
16:21
know she can’t I have this because
16:23
chocolate makes dogs very sick Madigan
16:26
does not understand this she pouts and
16:28
wraps herself around my leg like a scarf
16:30
tries to convince me to give her just a
16:33
tiny bit when I do not give in she
16:35
eventually gives up and lays in the
16:37
corner under the piano drooping and sad
16:39
I hope the universe has my best interest
16:43
in mind like I have my dogs when I want
16:46
something with my whole being and the
16:48
universe withholds it from me I hope the
16:51
universe thinks to herself silly girl
16:53
she thinks this is what she wants but
16:56
she does not understand how it will hurt
16:59
[Applause]
17:07
um so I wrote that poem stoned when I
17:12
was like 17 and like I like obviously
17:16
couldn’t smoke in my house cuz like my
17:18
mother so I would like go out to the
17:20
outside and I would come back and there
17:23
I am with Matt again in my chocolate
17:24
chip bagel and I’m like you know the
17:26
what this is the what and I
17:30
wrote it and put it on tumblr and it was
17:32
like one of my first poems to go viral
17:33
and it’s cool because a lot of people
17:36
have shared it one of one of my like
17:37
favorite childhood authors Sarah doesn’t
17:39
shared it and I was like wow if only you
17:42
knew I don’t know if you’d still be
17:44
proud of me but I hope you would Sarah
17:46
doesn’t
18:06
this poem will appear a little bit
18:08
different in the book because I’m like
18:09
always editing as time goes on I like
18:12
wrote in here so sorry it’s called on an
18:18
empty stomach anorexia is not a choice
18:22
but recovery is one day after years of
18:27
starving and gaining and fighting I
18:29
stepped on a scale and suddenly that
18:32
number didn’t say anything about me
18:34
later that night I ate a meal with my
18:37
family and nothing on my plate said
18:39
anything about me either later that day
18:42
I got ice cream from a truck and I
18:44
didn’t have to make myself earn it how
18:47
sweet it is to finally be able to eat
18:50
something just because I want it just
18:53
because it tastes good
18:55
still some days it feels like the only
18:58
thing standing between me and a relapse
19:00
is knowing that it is impossible to
19:03
change the world on an empty stomach
19:07
[Applause]
19:25
I love doing this next phone because old
19:28
men on the internet hate it like I hate
19:38
your crusty ass anyway whatever
19:44
perhaps this body belongs to the first
19:47
time I was raped and I think about how
19:50
up it is to begin a sentence but
19:52
the first time I was raped and how when
19:55
I talk to other women about this it
19:56
almost seems like it’s not even if
19:58
you’ve been assaulted
19:59
but when see women have so much in
20:03
common such as loving Zumba being
20:06
interrupted experiencing violence and
20:09
when another male friend turns out to be
20:11
a rapist the same male friend who wore
20:14
feminism across his chest like a pageant
20:16
sash I cannot help but remember meeting
20:19
him at a sexual violence prevention
20:21
rally in the disappointing irony and
20:24
when another male friend who identifies
20:26
as a feminist gives himself permission
20:28
to make a rape joke and has the nerve to
20:30
call it reclaim Ettore
20:31
never mind that his joke just validated
20:34
the actions of the silent predator
20:35
sitting next to him never mind that the
20:37
joke just made a survivor sitting across
20:39
from him relive what was likely the
20:41
worst thing to ever happen to them and
20:43
you men who pose as activists scratch
20:46
your head wonder why women are so
20:48
terrified to report while you shrug your
20:50
shoulders and make our trauma into your
20:53
victory lap the reason you fist bump
20:55
your friends over craft beers at the bar
20:58
how could I expect this body to be
21:00
perfect for anything but the punchline
21:02
and if I do not laugh I am no longer the
21:06
cool girl but the one who cannot take a
21:09
joke I have run out of compassion for
21:12
wolves I have run out of compassion for
21:15
anyone who isn’t outraged I ran in this
21:18
stubborn body followed I am the opposite
21:21
of forgiveness I am all rage and
21:23
shrieked and flame outside of the
21:25
women’s freshman dormitory at Yale
21:27
fraternity pledges chanted no means yes
21:30
yes means anal I dead women and
21:32
fill them with my semen a woman is found
21:35
unconscious behind a dumpster
21:37
needles in her hair naked wounded
21:39
violated by a star Stanford athlete
21:42
meanwhile the press is more concerned
21:44
with how this experience has taken away
21:46
her assailants appetite this is not to
21:50
say all men are hungry this is not even
21:54
to say all men are hunting but haven’t
21:57
we all found the bones of a woman stuck
22:00
like leftovers between a full man’s
22:02
teeth there is a fraternity in Minnesota
22:05
that paints the stone Lions outside
22:07
their front door the color of the
22:09
panties of the last girl they
22:11
successfully assaulted you call this
22:13
rape culture I call it this morning
22:16
I was cat called four times on the way
22:18
here if my trauma were made into an art
22:22
museum the most popular exhibit would
22:24
showcase portraits of every man who ever
22:27
assaulted me snarling and the smell of
22:29
his sweat on my pillowcase follows me to
22:31
sociology and the whole class can tell
22:33
that most days I am more victim than I
22:35
am survivor and in this room I try to
22:38
write a poem about anything other than
22:39
my sexual assault but all that comes out
22:41
is my throat in his hands hours before
22:46
one of my best friends raped me on our
22:48
college campus we discussed the prospect
22:51
of astral projection he couldn’t
22:53
understand why I wanted to experience it
22:56
so badly why would anyone want to leave
22:59
their body he left and in this moment we
23:03
had nothing in the world in common
23:07
[Applause]
23:26
quick graduation did you say hydrate or
23:35
died rate sick I’m trying to sleep on
23:45
the front porch of forgiveness I am too
23:49
young to be this lonely I didn’t leave
23:52
the door of my love unlocked so you
23:54
could mistake my sadness for a shelf
23:57
still do not mistake all of my honest
24:00
open for empty I do not have room to
24:04
carry anyone’s chaos but mine if I sink
24:08
it will be in my own ocean if I float it
24:12
will be on the ship I built myself
24:17
[Applause]
24:26
[Music]
24:39
thanks for your patience I’m obviously
24:41
struggling with all my post-it notes I
24:51
love you Chava
24:53
get out hey it’s boughs god I don’t have
25:01
to forgive you
25:02
a high-school boy with a popstar smile
25:07
kindly offered to give me a ride home
25:10
halfway there he pulled the car over and
25:12
yanked my ponytail like a leash shoved
25:15
my face into the pleat of his pressed
25:17
khaki pants so hard I cut my lip on the
25:20
teeth of his zipper when the blood
25:23
dribbled onto his belt he laughed when I
25:26
felt the red glare of the video
25:28
recording turn-on I fantasized about
25:31
biting his dick all the way off
25:33
but I didn’t i stiffened into a frozen
25:36
Polaroid of a trembling teenage girl
25:39
instead you can’t say no to a question
25:42
you were never asked
25:49
in elementary school everyone was
25:52
hopelessly obsessed with the silly thing
25:54
we called the game it’s simple if you
25:57
think about the game you lose to win the
26:01
game you do not think about it even if
26:03
someone brings it up I tried to go a
26:06
whole day without thinking about it I
26:08
tried to go a whole day pretending this
26:11
body is not a memorial of violent
26:13
memories to live in the body of a
26:16
survivor is to never be able to leave
26:18
the scene of a crime I cannot ignore the
26:21
fact that I live here
26:23
at a leadership retreat we play an
26:26
icebreaker activity called cross the
26:28
line
26:28
the instructor says cross the line if
26:31
you’ve survived an assault and I think
26:33
to myself did I survive it or did I just
26:35
get through it who is entitled to the
26:38
name survivor I carry a bouquet of fear
26:42
even now even here I am still struck by
26:44
the Thunderbolt of a predator shaped
26:46
like an educator I have always hated the
26:49
game because I always lose I always
26:52
think about it sometimes I still look up
26:56
my rapist names on Facebook I consider
26:59
warning the clueless women in their
27:01
photographs of the Venus flytrap they
27:04
are smiling next to but I never do
27:06
sometimes I still look up my rapist
27:09
names on Facebook perhaps this too is a
27:13
form of self-harm
27:17
[Applause]
27:37
bless you that was adorable Wow the soft
27:44
grip wait hon I’m gonna take these
27:46
post-its out so it’s not ugly I don’t
27:49
know why that bother me all right the
27:54
soft girl in my bed is all jewel tone
27:56
lipstick and good intentions she
27:59
whispers so what do you like into my
28:01
skin and I feel my voice shrink into a
28:03
tiny pearl until it falls to the ocean
28:05
floor of my throat and this soft girl
28:08
did nothing wrong
28:09
but I am still drowned and embarrassment
28:12
my stiff voice clamps shut and hovers
28:14
above the bed like a shadow my tongue
28:16
tangles into a tight cherry stem knot I
28:19
do not feel entitled to ask for what I
28:21
want I don’t even know what I want me
28:24
the bitch who never shuts up suddenly
28:26
has nothing to say I still struggle to
28:29
speak up during sex I cannot help but
28:32
wonder is this another thing trauma has
28:36
taken from me did my rapist take my
28:39
voice is a souvenir to fossilize their
28:41
fond memories of invading my body when
28:44
the soft girl in my bed says she likes
28:46
to be choked I instantly feel every
28:49
light in my body go out and suddenly I
28:51
can time-travel i’m slingshotted back to
28:54
the memory of the men with fishhooks
28:56
four fingernails and barbed wire from
28:58
hands how they coiled around my neck
29:00
like a Python how the lump in my throat
29:03
clotted like blood how I waited so
29:05
patiently for it to be over how I cried
29:08
how I screamed how I shrieked how he
29:10
heard me how he was hurting me how he
29:13
was hard this entire time
29:23
this poem is short but it’s caught him
29:25
to piss to be sad anymore
29:27
I’m sitting at home voice low on the
29:30
phone with the sexual assault victims
29:32
advocate she chirps the first thing you
29:35
need to know is that you are not alone I
29:38
tell her I know that is the problem
29:44
[Applause]
29:57
I’ve got two short poems and then one
30:00
regular-sized poem for you and then I’m
30:02
done thank you guys so much this poem is
30:13
called fossilized Ankama not everything
30:16
is a poem blithe my mother scoffs I
30:19
laugh because I am certain everything as
30:22
a poem if you catch it in just the right
30:24
light like a crista but sometimes
30:27
writing feels like I am turning the ugly
30:29
history of my body into stone I freeze
30:32
violent memories into cement statues in
30:35
these poems so they can no longer hurt
30:37
me they can only stare at me which isn’t
30:40
as bad I guess this is another one
30:52
that’s gonna be really different in the
30:53
book because I clearly did some
30:55
revisions poetry is the way I choose to
31:01
expose the myth of reality I am always
31:04
trying to be a good story writing is the
31:08
ongoing act of forgiving and apologizing
31:10
to each of the women I used to be I
31:13
stare at myself in the mirror for hours
31:15
as if watching a television show I soak
31:18
in a bathtub of my flaws until they
31:21
prune into art most moments would devour
31:25
a sky or a symphony as tiny as time but
31:29
here soft glass rose from a garden of a
31:33
girl and the summer let go of my peach
31:36
dress do you still like to swim in salt
31:39
storms and dance on pink clouds of ACE
31:43
please laugh with me and remember we
31:47
were sweet and young and worryingly
31:50
brilliant
31:52
[Applause]
32:05
I don’t know if I have this last one
32:06
memorized but I’m just gonna take a
32:08
crazy risk do a crazy dance thank you
32:17
I should probably turn it to that page
32:27
just in case I know you think I talked
32:42
too much I know you don’t think this is
32:45
what a pleasant survivor is supposed to
32:48
sound like I know you are threatened
32:50
because I am a thunderstorm of a woman
32:53
with so much to say do you know how long
32:56
it took me to say anything at all
32:59
sometimes I worry I write too much about
33:02
assault I worry this is too ugly a
33:05
burden to talk about I worry I am
33:07
putting too much responsibility on you
33:09
the listener but when I talk about my
33:12
trauma I’m not asking you to carry it or
33:15
relieve me from it I’m just asking for
33:18
it not to be too heavy for a
33:19
conversation these experiences take up
33:22
so much space inside of me there is no
33:26
socially acceptable time or place to
33:28
talk about rape I realized this at a
33:31
party I didn’t want to be at dizzyingly
33:33
drunk someone asks how I’m doing and his
33:36
name spills from my mouth into a puddle
33:38
of vomit on the floor I apologized and
33:40
apologized and apologized until the host
33:43
says shoot girl is sorry the only word
33:46
you know how to say suddenly I am the
33:49
embarrassed girl crying in the bathroom
33:51
at the party because I made the mistake
33:53
of speaking about what happened to me at
33:55
what was supposed to be a happy occasion
33:57
I’m afraid of wearing my recovery to
34:00
publicly I have noticed that people only
34:03
stopped calling me victim and started
34:05
calling me survivor when I stopped
34:07
talking about it but I have stopped
34:10
bringing flowers to the grave of the
34:12
teenager I used to be back when I had
34:14
orchids in my hair and polka dots on my
34:17
shoes bubbling over
34:18
flight I used to refuse to wear the
34:21
dress I was assaulted in I used to
34:23
imagine it draped in a sash of caution
34:26
tape because it was the only witness
34:28
I threw the underwear away I didn’t want
34:31
to write a statement I didn’t want to
34:34
file a report I wanted to take a shower
34:36
I wanted to scream my statement is that
34:39
I woke up today my statement is that I
34:43
stayed here in this body but everyday I
34:46
find new ways to him
34:48
I wear the dress I was assaulted in and
34:51
I do not associate it with him just to
34:53
remind myself he does not own a single
34:56
part of me I found a way to heal
35:00
through the poetry this stage is the
35:03
only place I could tell my story where
35:05
it wasn’t a burden I was putting on to
35:07
anyone this stage is where I learned to
35:09
stop hoarding my suffering and I could
35:11
give a about a slam score this is
35:14
me healing
35:15
this is meera claiming ownership over my
35:17
body this is the only place i have
35:20
control over the narrative and he cannot
35:23
interrupt me
35:24
even though trauma has a way of becoming
35:27
the wallpaper of my head watch me drag
35:31
the art from my suffering wash me plant
35:33
seeds down my spine and bloom into a
35:36
garden of poetry from every horrible
35:38
thing that ever happened to me all the
35:40
nights my voice turned into cement and i
35:43
couldn’t say anything watch me build an
35:45
empire from the ashes of every single
35:49
thing that ever tried to destroy me one
35:53
day the urge to write a poem became
35:56
greater than the urge to write a suicide
35:59
note and so i wrote the poem
36:06
thank you guys so much I love you
36:10
I appreciate you I’ll be signing books
36:12
all night after I go make sure my
36:14
lipsticks not up thank you guys
36:17
[Applause]

This post was previously published on YouTube and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

***

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Photo credit: Screenshot from video

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