I hear because I listen.
A few years ago, I was asleep in bed. I had a dream about this police officer who was shot. It was out near a stadium and I witnessed the person shoot him then run away. Only I couldn’t do anything about it because it was just a dream, right? But it was so vivid. Rosalind, in her early 20s, didn’t know what to make of it. Even when I woke up the next morning and all over the news was a story about an officer who’d been shot and killed the night before. I was convinced that I had been there, somehow, but I didn’t know how. Like all the vivid dreams I had back then, I simply wrote as many of the details I could remember from the dream in my journal. My journal is full of dreams. Dreams that seemed to be significant. Then there was the time when my brother passed away and he came to me. He had a message for me. He was calling to me. I never told anyone what he said. I just wrote about it in my diary.
But I always wondered why these things were happening to me.
Fast forward to 2016. I have had lots of people come to me. There was the woman I saw clearly in my mind, the one who inspired the story I’m currently writing, Ruby’s story. I still don’t have a title for the story, but I’ve gone through several re-writes. And it’s one of the most difficult stories I’ve had to write. It has been emotionally draining, but in a good way. If that makes sense. It does to me. I want to tell the story she came to me wanting me to tell. When she came to me, she was sitting before a vanity mirror, staring at her face. Tears glistened in her eyes. I could feel the defeat emanating from her body. Then she dropped her face in her cupped hands. That’s it. The story came to me the day I sat down with a pen in my hand ready to tell it, just a few days after I saw her. Then yesterday, I saw in my mind’s eye a naked young woman. She was standing before a full-length mirror looking at her naked body. Though her skin was flawless and she was physically beautiful, she saw something other eyes might not be able to see. “My body is a map of places I never should have visited.” I heard her say that and I didn’t change those words. The poem is below:
My body is a map of places
I never should’ve visited. Marred.
With the fingerprints of men who
came to visit, but chose not to stay.
Down my right arm lies the state
of memory: the one who lied,
said he was dying. Many tears
were shed in that place. Across
my chest stretches the state of
the ones who always promised to
love me, then took those promises away.
My back is covered with rough terrain:
I just don’t know how to love you.
A few have traveled that way. My
abdomen, the place where my womb
is found, bears the bruise of the one who
said he’d been searching his whole life
for me. A state that sorta resembles Texas.
And down there, that spot between my legs,
is the state of Baby, I really do love you.
My body is a map soiled by reuse
by the ones who got lost in the curves
of my body, curves they read like Braille,
a book they never could understand
even if they went totally blind. The terrain
here is not flat like on a map and
there’s more to me than that gold
you thought you’d found at the parting
of my thighs. But they never discovered
their way to my heart because they only
wanted to be able to say they’d visited.
I was just a place to visit. Now when I stand
in front of the mirror, my naked body exposed,
I see souvenirs left behind from all the places
they visited, fingerprints from all the men
who suffer from the Christopher complex &
have claimed to have discovered me when
all they really did was set sail and land
in the place where they could rape the land
& my mind, pillage, loot and try to
destroy me. I existed before they came,
before they landed on me, left their handprints
all over me. Handprints no amount of bleach
can rinse away. I spent years trying to find
myself but I’d drifted to those places,
secret spaces where criminal minds were taught
how to murder me. To murder my soul.
Those savages who defended their right to
bear arms. How could I know the weapons
would be used to kill me
before I learned to clean up the smeared prints,
the smudges on my soul. Like a foraging native
in my own homeland, I found out their secret.
I existed all along. And I will continue to
exist long after they depart and have become
dead to me.
Peace & Love,