My doctor says sex isn't supposed to hurt
But I am throbbing and thrashing
Like a fish caught in a tiger's jaws
"Except it is your first time." She says
I think my first time was around nine.
And I have spent every waking breath
Trying to blow away the particles of that gnashing memory,
Like how my mother blew away the news.
Me, a fly buzzing in her ear
When I told her.
Doctor asks if I have any experience with assault
And I can't bring myself to whisper the word back at her.
It was never a word I had used to describe it,
It always drew a frown, furrowed brows from my mother.
She would dust my thighs and my eyes,
Scraping every piece of dirt from the surface of my skin.
So she will never have to explain to her friends
Why I am so quiet,
So she can deny like Peter did Jesus
Every encounter with the police.
And doctor stares at me, waiting for an answer,
But waiting for me to respond was
Like waiting for him to stop - it never
Happened. And I want to tell doctor
She is blessed; I want to pray for her
That her skin will never know the feel of grime
And waterfalls of guilt, unwanted,
Will never gush from her inner thighs.
And doctor frowns. She asks me
If I have been raped.
I do not know what she means,
The word leaves her mouth and scrambles in the air
Before reaching my ears.
Have I ever been torn to shreds
And glued back together with saliva?
Have I ever been stabbed with knives of molten lava
Wielded by the hands that once stroked my hair?
Have I ever, ever drowned in a desert of agony,
My screams a cry into the vacant chasm
Only a melody to the people who could hear?
Yes. But I do not know what rape is,
It has never been defined or described.
But I want doctor to think she is good at her job
So I will tell her yesterday was my first,
Though I hope it will be my last.
And that my pain is in my private part,
When it has been oozing from my pores.
I will say it was in the moment, brief
When it's been eternal, everlasting, long suffering.
Esther Bewaji is a book lover living in Nigeria with her husband, a mushroom shaped teddy bear. She aspires to be a critically acclaimed author and filmmaker. Her works have appeared in F(r)iction magazine, Alcott Youth Magazine and And Gallons Magazine.