A culture of community accountability

Oct. 25, 2022, 8:30 p.m.

The lampshade is soft and my eyes are tired.
I try to breathe into my palms
forming a triangle over my belly button.
My body soothed
by its own heat.

I do not know what it means to be a woman.
But sometimes I am sick for no reason,
sometimes anger twists me together
like a rag — head and knees.
Sometimes it is fear.

Tomorrow I will buy a muffin
and sit on a warm bench.
I will let the sun take
the place of my hands and I will attempt
to uncurl.

In the soft dark, my spine carves
into the mattress.
I do not set an alarm.
To be a thing. To be for anyone
but your self.
I imagine it must be this.

Note from the author: This poem is a reflection on feeling helpless in an institution that consistently puts its students in danger while also moving the burden of protection to the community. The closest I feel to other women is after receiving a community alert email, being unsure of femininity except in the context of danger, fear and pain.

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