Book of Judith
It is September and my sleeping pills
have called it quits and by that, I mean
I am abusing these pills and still can’t sleep.
Which is really to say that depression
is a wool blanket that is smothering me.
Except that I later hate this analogy;
when he is pressed up against me
and I can’t breathe, let alone scream.
I don’t remember what he looks like.
I just know that his teeth were sharp
as in knife-like
as in cutting.
It is October and my best friend wants
to fuck and by that, I mean he is projecting –
he is lonely. Which is really to say that
our friendship is a competition in selfishness
and he doesn’t have to do much to win these days.
He knows about what happened.
Except when he doesn’t and I say no
and he tries to shove his hands
down my jeans anyway.
It is November and my father doesn’t know
what to say to me and by that, I mean
I know he thinks it’s my fault. Which is
really to say that I hate my grandparents
for raising him this way. Except that
he’s nearly fifty and there’s no excuse
for berating your daughter on the night
she’s been raped.
It is December and a detective called my mother
while I was in class and by that, I mean
he is in jail for what he did. Which is really to say,
I’m going to have to testify. Except this is when
the nightmares begin to worsen
and all I can see when I close my eyes are
in my thighs
in my shoulder
in my neck.
It is January and I am being cross-examined,
and by that I mean their defense is that I am a slut.
Which is really to say that they think
I set myself on fire just so someone else
could hear my bloody scream.
As if I needed more scar tissue.
Except now, all that I consist of is scar tissue.
My therapist and I have been ignoring this
It is February and we are studying
Caravaggio in art history and by that,
I mean Judith Beheading Holofernes; I mean,
heads rolling, ambivalence, determination.
Which is really to say that I want his skull
in a dumpster behind a liquor store in City Heights,
his hair coated in sludge. Except when
I am drunk on my eighteenth birthday
and I see him in every shadow. Then,
I want him incinerated.
I want his ashes strewn across the sewers.
Taylor Pavolillo is a 21 year old poet living in Oakland, California. She studies Creative Writing and Women and Gender Studies at San Francisco State University, where she can always be found with a cup of coffee in hand. She is the estranged mother of an adorable cat and dog who currently reside in San Diego with their grandmother, and that’s where you can find her heart. She hopes this poem finds you unashamed. She has work forthcoming in The Fem Lit Mag and more can be found at taylorpavolillo.com.