It surrounded me like a thick blanket,
a false illusion of security as I walked
across Fulton and through the market.
My flats tapped the ground, giving off no sound,
and it is silence from which the monsters appeared.
He slipped out of it, perhaps from one of the booths
that lined the outdoor market, that would have been bustling
if only it were six hours later.
Instead, it was enveloped in a shroud of promise,
a promise that made no noise, gave off no warning,
held no threat. Or so, I thought.
Why didn't I scream? Perhaps there was fear
of breaking what was the fragile existence
of the deafening nothingness surrounding me.
Instead. I felt blows from every angle,
and I froze, unable to control what motor skills to use,
what survival technique was of prime importance,
forgetting the power I had to break the barrier of quiet.
I slipped away as the man slipped inside of me,
and I escaped. Across my world and to the marina,
where we had played as children.
Across rotting boards I danced, tripping over limestone,
and spashing in the water until I was soaked through.
I felt the crackled boards, the scratching limestone,
the cool water, and the sunshine on my skin;
but there were no shouts of joy or squeals of delight.
As my head hit the hard ground, I looked up,
attempting to follow with my eyes a man I knew
was already gone, and on to his next errand.
I lay still, repeating unspoken promises it was over,
and that I needed to get up, to move, to run.
Once again, the market was quiet,
cocooned in the promise previously threatened.
When I tried to speak, the people and situations
absorbed my words into their being, as if they were sins
that needed to be quickly washed away and disposed of.
My story was a burden, and I quickly learned to watch my words,
to hide the truth that was inside of me.
Until that truth inside of me began to grow.
It was a month and a half before I realized it was growing,
alive and well and strong...
My silent truth had a heartbeat, and lungs, and blood vessels.
It was a part of me yet a life all its own;
uncertain, unstable, and silent,
just ike its Mother.
Even the sobs made no sound as I sat in the room,
waiting for a definitive eternity to hear my name called.
The name of my truth would never be spoken,
the story of its life would never be lived.
Instead, its cries would be muffled with my own,
lost in a world with higher priorities and louder sounds.
It is a promise that each woman is held to, bound to,
tied to, regardless of her race, her class, her life story...
It is a threat, a security, a knowledge, and a truth.
It is a blessing and a curse, represents beauty and hurt,
and is no less existent today that it was for our mothers,
our grandmothers, our great-great-great grandmothers.
May my own decisions lead you to your own truths.
And should your truth, as did mine, have the courage to grow,
support it, do not squelch it. Nourish it, do not destroy it.
Our voice is our hope, and our hope is quickly fading.
For our daughters, let's not be our mothers.
Let's not be our grandmothers, our great-great-great grandmothers.
Let us break the chain. Let our silence be no more.