SAYING IT/NOT SAYING IT
AT THE DODGE POETRY FESTIVAL
It has stopped being possible to sleep with the windows open.
Still, by 8 p.m., everyone is home. I recognize their furniture
& envy their arrangements. The wood itself, cheap & light, is
just like mine, identical
to the surface, to the leg.
He slips & calls her Jane, then stops. —I forget, are you ‘Lynn’
at this event? —Yes, she says, but I’m ‘coming out’ as Jane.
—Your name is Jane? asks the woman who’d thought they were friends.
—Yes, says Jane. —Why? say I.
She explains; my envy brakes.
Published poets discourse at picnic tables under rain. Brando & macho,
rich tourists in poor places, to free or not to free verse, she a quiet 40s white woman in a suit
in the jungle. Jane. The other woman says
—Marie Howe said to replace
was with any other verb.
—It would be interesting, she explains to Jane, for you to try to write
about rape or incest without using the words. Jane nods,
agrees too quickly, —Yes it would be interesting, very, it’s
I think, Surely that is how we write it. I am home now
looking out. Without the word we write it in the neck & in
the plumbing, we write it in the bright, in every tyger we write it.
The husband of Jane says, —But,
honey, you never use those words.
minalhajratwala.com> is a poet, publisher, author, and writing coach. This poem is reprinted with permission from her collection Bountiful Instructions for Enlightenment (2014), published by The (Great) Indian Poetry Collective<www. greatindianpoetrycollective. org>, a new collective press focusing on poetry from global India. Her nonfiction epic Leaving India: My Family's Journey from Five Villages to Five Continents won four literary awards, and she is the editor of an anthology, Out! Stories from the New Queer India. Follow her on Twitter @minalh or Facebook https://www.facebook.com/ minalhajratwala.
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Curatorial note: The following poems are a response to a call for poetry about
rape culture for the annual Delirious Advent Feature; the call is in turn an
immediate response to the Rolling Stone story “A Rape on Campus” about rape
culture at the University of Virginia. However, they are also part of a larger
conversation about rape in poetry communities. Curated by Jessica Smith and