I have lived here for twenty three years.
I have returned to this home more often
than to any other;
every morning I step into it and I hate it
but I have known no other as intimately
and to such depth.
Here is home to no one but me.
I have lived in my body for twenty three years
and while this is mine
this doesn’t belong to me;
the man on the street who sneered,
who shouted about how fat my arse is
how he’d fuck it so hard it’ll get smaller;
the man on the street who called me a fat cow;
the man on the street who told me I should
wear a bra,
cover up if I don’t want him to look;
the man on the street who grabbed me one night
told me he’d show me a good time;
the man in the pub who told me I’m a slut because
he knows how many people I fucked
and I’m a cunt for not sucking him off;
the man on the empty train who took his dick out
and stroked it in front of me
looked me in the eye and licked his teeth;
the man on the bus who rubbed himself on my waist line,
who I had to push off me
whose face I could see bending around my fist
while his eyes burned with hatred;
the man in a ditch digging for the town hall
who told me it wouldn’t be easy to fuck me
because how long would he have to go looking for a hole
through all this fat?
My body belongs to every man who’s ever claimed it
because their voice is stronger than mine
and no matter how much I shield it,
how I mark it and claim it,
my body belongs to the world.
To it, I am nothing;
I am mute and deaf and limp
in the face of its onslaught of ownership;
I have been born to please a man and
there is nothing to me beyond that.
Every day I walk fearful of when
someone will decide to show me
that all doors should be locked
and that home is in fact bitter,
smeared with saliva and sperm.
Every day I expect that I will be shoved into a wall
and forced to be quiet while my home is ransacked
in the search for sick happiness.
I belong to this world not like a free spirit,
I am no child to this Earth;
I belong to this world when my father tells me
men will not like looking at me when I’m chubby
isn’t it a shame that I am so beautiful?
and I want to tell him father I woke up with someone’s dick
still hard inside me
and I have no memory of how it happened
so I put my clothes back on and walked home
where I showered twenty times
and vomited my consent all over the floor
My body belongs to the world when
I exist only in relation to men,
when I am someone’s daughter, sister, friend
and isn’t something like that happening to me
just fucking awful?
when sexual assault is horrible if it happens to me
and I would be worth something
because I am an extension of a man
so it impacts on them more than it does on me.
In twenty-three years that I have lived here
I have yet to meet a woman
who hasn’t been harassed in the most basic of forms;
basic, they call it
as if basic doesn’t hurt you so deep
you can swim in the wound
and wish you could drown.
I have yet to meet a woman whose body
hasn’t been claimed by others
against her wish.
When I willingly hold his hand on the street
my home is made of glass and everyone
is lining up to see how my grotesque outline
overshadows his beautiful legs,
how my inferiority stains him,
how I’m simply not good enough.
Their thoughts converge in the pity for him
and the judgement of me,
of how great he would look should I lose weight,
of how he could do so much better.
My body belongs to the world because
it gets to decide who should touch me
when I say yes and even when I say no;
words can be swallowed and such a small word
gets lost so easily behind a locked jaw.
My days are haunted by the times when
they would have burned my fingers for holding hers
before trying to understand where my heart beats;
haunted by their lewd commentary
when I dared to kiss her cheek and her lips
walking back from school;
when our bodies touching no more than if we were friends
became porn fuel to people on the street
when they told me it’s sick but still
not as bad as two guys, Jo
and besides it’s really hot when you two kiss
so could you do it for us, like, right now?
and besides, you’re young and you’ll get over it
and you’ll find a man to fuck you straight.
I never came out because I always thought
that it’s nobody’s business who I love
and who I let touch me
and who I let hold me
and whether they’re a man or not but since
my body belongs to the world
and I could be raped behind a dumpster because
I like my Jameson too much
and I could be killed because
someone doesn’t like me kissing a girl
and I am homeless every day I exist
maybe this door should be opened
and I should claim my choices when I can.