The word that trembles

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Literary Fiction  |  House: Review Chain

TW/CW: poem covers PTSD which could be mildly triggering for some

The word that trembles

I say no, knowing that it falters on the tip of my tongue

On that tip, an excuse for violence

I say no, knowing that it shatters the glass wall to the right of me

On those shards, my feet bloody

I say no, knowing that it is a radical act

On that act, not a single passes in the legislature

I say no knowing, I am 1 in 3

I am 1 in 3

Three times I froze for the sake of my own safety

Two times I left unscathed

Once I said no

What good did it do?

My tongue trembles on the roof of my mouth

Nothing comes out

And I

Mouth “hatred” sitting in traffic

I whisper “violence” as I turn the other way on a dark street

I scream “do something” at the police officer sitting in front of me

My phone trembles in my hand

The text jittering on the screen

The words jumble

So threatening

“And what do you think that means?”

“Could it have been a joke?”

The officer asks me as he twiddles his thumbs

“You want me to throw him in jail… for flirting with you?”

My mouth agape

Tears warp my vision and fall down my cheeks

One by one

I sigh

Lips trembling

“No-thing…never mind, it’s nothing”

And I reach for the door

I mouth “it’s nothing…”

As I walk the other way on a dark street

I whisper “it’s nothing” sitting on the freeway

I scream “I’m nothing” in my car, for no one to see

I park and slump over in my seat to fall asleep

I encounter him tucked into my brain

He has the keys

I wake up slamming on my brakes in the parking lot

The pedal won’t ever go down far enough

I repeat this throughout the night

I become so obsessed

I count his breaths

until I know he’s far away enough

I wake up again

and it’s morning

I made it through the night

But until the next one comes

The word trembles on my tongue


Submitted: October 21, 2021

© Copyright 2021 Roxanne B.. All rights reserved.

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Comments

shika

The emotions I felt from this poem weighed too heavily on my heart that it makes me want to empathize with the poor victim. You have brought to light what one could say frequently happens these days when walking on unsafe dark streets. Knowing to say 'No', people who need to understand when they're conveyed a 'NO' and the primary duty of law enforcement officers to respect the complaints of victims if not at least empathize with them and offer moral support. It is unfair to see the victim being traumatized every time she spots the dark street and to see her suffering thinking about her assaulter almost every moment while the assaulter would most likely have forgotten about the incident and would be having the time of his life. 'The ones affected end up carrying the burden, the pain, and the consequences of a wrongdoing done to them' - this is a major contributor for PTSD and you've emphasized it well. The poem implicitly describes that getting over PTSD will take time and even if they do, the traumatic experiences will stay hidden in the corner of the victim's mind only to be triggered by certain familiar events, people, or places like the dark street you've mentioned here. You've done an awesome job of creating awareness about PTSD through your poem. Keep it up!

Thu, October 21st, 2021 5:10am

Author
Reply

Wow, your kind words mean so much to me Shika! I'm glad I could bring some awareness to this issue. Also, I wanted to bring awareness to the issue of women not always being believed if they do choose to make a report. A lot of people ask victims "why didn't you report it?" and this is part of why. Not only did this character not get help, she felt completely abandoned by the system that was supposed to protect and find justice for her. Imagine a person gets up the courage to report and this is the way she is treated - what are the chances she would ever report something like that again? She was humiliated and dismissed and left with the wreckage.

Thank you so much again for your lovely review!! I appreciate it so much!

Wed, November 3rd, 2021 7:19pm

Archia

I loved that you compared it to the Three Little Pigs and talked about walls. I remember when I did counselling a few years
A lot of people don't realise that the original Grim fairy tales are very dark.
Your poem was really powerful. You really captured that depth of pain that can come from such an event and the lasting trauma that it brings afterwards. It really is a problem in the world that sadly not believed and not addressed as it should be. I really loved your poem, it was very powerful and addressed an important issue.

Sun, October 24th, 2021 8:54am

Author
Reply

Thank you so much Archia! Your comment means so much!! I'm so touched that you found it powerful and I'm so happy I could submit it to your contest

Wed, November 3rd, 2021 7:24pm

Moomin

This is so strong and deep. Your words drip emotion. It must have taken great courage to write this.

I am a man, and I am ashamed on behalf of all men. I hope your words reach out and pierce hearts, of both victims and perpetrators.

I wish you peace.

Fri, October 29th, 2021 10:53pm

Author
Reply

Moomin, this made me tear up. Thank you so much for your powerful words. It was really hard to write this one, but I'm glad I did it and got it out there

Wed, November 3rd, 2021 7:25pm

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