Naked

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You decide. Two versions of the poem, Naked – my first draft and a version post feedback from a group of wonderful readers. . Which moves you more? Why? Feedback was mixed. Like one of your own children, I love them both, but differently, and won’t admit to a favorite. You vote.

__________________________________________________________________

Naked (version 1)

This is a poem about rape
about being a rape survivor
about why I became a ferocious feminist

Why I burn so hot that I can scald the ground around me
Why I learned to wield my words as blades
or caresses

Why I cut off my hair and embraced 80s androgyny

Why even then
with my vintage
oversized men’s shirts
short
spiked hair
and minimal makeup
I still slid into plaid wool miniskirts
to pair with my long underwear and combat boots

How I placed a trail of broken glass in front of my heart
and dared any man who wanted to love me to cross it barefoot

This is also about how I grew my hair back
long and wild
brushed mascara on my lashes again
retrieved a flirtatious flash of my eyes
shook out my feline
feminine self and slipped it back on
like a gossamer robe

This is really about how I learned I can walk luminescent
utterly naked
down the middle of any street

My skin is my own

My heart is my own

Only I can give myself

@ Julie Ayers
April 2011
______________________________________________________________________________

Naked (version 2)

Pinned to a mattress at sixteen
by his body and hatred
I became a ferocious feminist

I burn so hot I can scald the ground
Wield my words as blades, or caresses

Cut off my hair
embraced 80s androgyny

Even then
with my oversized men’s shirts
combat boots
I slid into wool miniskirts

A trail of spiked dog collar necklaces placed
in front of my heart
I dared any man who wanted to love me
to cross it barefoot

Now my hair has grown back
long and wild
I’ve brushed mascara on my lashes again
retrieved a flirtatious flash of my eyes

shook out my feline
feminine self and slipped it back on
like a gossamer robe

I walk luminescent
utterly naked
down the middle of any road

My skin is my own

My heart is my own

Only I can give myself

@ Julie Ayers
April 2011

Preachy post poetal note:
1 in 6 women in the U.S. has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape. That number is likely even low as the crime is often not reported. I did not report my rape and I know many other women who also did not go to the police. These victims are your sisters, daughters, mothers, aunts, friends, grandmothers, coworkers, partners, wives, girlfriends.

I believe we expend too much energy trying to teach girls and women not to be victims of rape and not nearly enough energy teaching boys and men not to rape.

I am a rape survivor and I feel no shame. I feel impassioned, angry, active, loud – not ashamed. I make myself visible to you. I will not hide because discussing rape makes people feel uncomfortable. If I had been mugged, punched, robbed, my friends and neighbors would listen and express concern about the safety of our streets and what to do to make the neighborhood safer. Form a neighborhood watch. If I say I was raped, eyes drop away, and an uncomfortable silence grows. How can survivors feel safe coming forward if they are treated as pariahs? As a rape survivor, I do not want your judgement or pity. I want your understanding and support, but especially your outrage and your action. I want a change.

Today’s diatribe has now concluded. Go reread your favorite of the two poems again. Share it with a friend then talk about rape and how we can take back the night, afternoon, and morning. At least the poems, and my experience as a survivor, have a happy ending. I am so incredibly luminescent.

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About Julie Ayers

Seasoned apocaloptimist, keen admirer of well-placed words, fierce mama bear of extra special children, black belt hugger, and advocate for a fashion rebellion which elevates the most human of hearts to socially acceptable outerwear.

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