Last week I drove up to Orono, Maine to watch my daughter perform in The Vagina Monologues. Eve Ensler, the playwright, allows the show to be produced, royalty-free, on or around Feb. 14th to raise funds for groups working to end violence against women. This was my first time to see the show and I found it unexpectedly moving. Funny. Harrowing. I couldn’t relate to all that was said and some of the language was a bit over-the-top for me, but I listened as young women shared other women’s stories. Stories of shame and confusion. Stories of empowerment. Stories of abuse. Stories of personal discovery. Stories of trauma and rape and mutilation. So many stories.
Midway through the show, in the dark of a scene change, the sound system crackled and a recording began. It was President Trump’s infamous hot mic comments, played from start to finish. The theater was hushed. As I listened to those words again, I felt their weight in an even more visceral way. In this theater, in this context, his words were an abomination. That so many could discount them as “locker room banter” is a symptom of a far greater problem in our culture. I remain stunned that these words were uttered by a man who was subsequently elected President of our country. How could these words and this election not reverberate, like yet one more blow, on survivors of sexual abuse?
After the recording stopped, the lights went up, and the monologues continued. The next one featured a young woman sharing the terrifying story of a survivor of extreme sexual violence in a war zone. Later in the show, I listened to the narrative of a woman who was repeatedly abused by her husband. Their stories still haunt me.
I returned home that night and the next day I wrote this poem for Laura Shovan’s February 10 Found Words Poetry Challenge. The words chosen to inspire a poem on that day were: pounds, cancel, storm, path, whiteout,avoid, slick, quickly, challenge, plummeted and a bonus: pack a punch. Clearly my poem was influenced by the stories I had heard the night before.
Clouds gather on the horizon
Emotions storm across his face
She moves away
willing herself into shadow
quickly thinking, thinking, thinking
fear acrid on her tongue,
anticipating the outburst
the thunder of blows
the unrelenting verbal barrage
desperate to avoid the coming tempest
But her existence is a challenge
He moves toward her
with pounding steps
Her heart plummets,
into a slick puddle of fear
She knows he packs a punch
Molly Hogan (c) 2017