They will ask you
Whether your project can inflict ‘harm’
And you will respond: “minor discomfort” to expedite the review process
Her name is Cym,
And the arc of her smile mirrors her painted eyebrows,
On Mondays she asks you what you did over the weekend.
You do not tell her. You are guilty of the conversion rate, how you can afford a club, a skin, a language that she never will.
She wants to know what it feels like to live in America
If you have a handsome boyfriend there who will buy you dinner sometimes
In your field research class they will teach you about the importance of obtaining consent.
Cym cannot sign your form
So she communicates with the earnestness of hazel eyes
Smiles, tells you how she used to let heroine and men
Inside of her and sometimes couldn’t tell the difference,
Tells you how the cops would beat her in men’s prisons
In the international research workshop they will tell you not to get involved in your subjects’ personal life.
Your palms are sweaty, do not let them smear the ink. Keep writing as she laughs and encourages you to ask more questions
An aneurysm is a blood-filled bulge in the wall of a blood vessel. When the size of an aneurysm increases, there is a significant risk of rupture, often resulting in death.
A researcher is an ambitious distraction at the back of the room. When the amount of information increases, there is a significant risk of an epiphany, often resulting in a published paper.
She will die suddenly nine months after your interview. You can still remember the scent her smile
Dear Cym: In America I am learning how to think that I am better than you.
In fact, I am majoring in you. Don’t worry, they don’t use your name, keep it confidential
I am turning your body into a new theory
Academics work like Johns sometimes don’t worry,
Don’t worry they will pay me to use you,
I will cut you some of the profit in my acknowledgements.
My thesis will be in English,
In the accent you heard on re-runs of friends, Cym I’m sorry we weren’t friends, but I wanted to keep it professional
I promise I will print it on the whitest paper I can find,
So they can see the black in your words
I will bury you in a library,
I hope you will find home there
In this haunted house of quotations
Hanging on the shelves like skeletons
Listen to the recorded transcript on repeat,
Feel her laughter crawl into you,
Watch it spark the timber wood of your bones,
And burn your paper in the flames
And cry because we refuse to let people inside of us in fear of imploding
And cry because you have the story of a woman nested in the back of your throat and you do not deserve it.
What I really meant to ask is:
What theory did you use to stay warm at night?
Is, Can you teach me?
if you like this poem please consider supporting the artist at returnthegayze.tumblr.com
You mean the generation that paid three times as much for college to enter a job market with triple the unemployment isn’t interested in purchasing the assets of the generation who just blew an enormous housing bubble and kept it from popping through quantitative easing and out-and-out federal support? Curious.
Moss mimic stick insect (Trychopeplus laciniatus), San Cipriano Forest Reserve, Colombia
photo via Project NOAH: Dan Doucette
ed: Thanks to Maureen Sill for sending this one my way.
Go ahead and make something for the elites. Not the elites of class or wealth, but the elites of curiosity, passion and taste.
Even after he murdered her, Reeva Steenkamp is still being referred to as “Oscar Pistorius’ model girlfriend.” PATRIARCHY EVEN IN DEATH.
Melissa Harris-Perry’s Open Letter to the Steubenville Survivor
Dearest Beloved Girl,
This letter is an apology. An apology for being an adult who has failed to make the world safe for you. Because you should be safe. Even when you make the sometimes stupid, often naive choices that teens make, you should be safe.
Your vulnerability should not invite assault and attack of your body or your spirit. And so I am sorry, because we have failed to teach your male peers that they have no right to touch you without your consent or to use you to meet their needs or to discard you if your victimization does not fit their life plan. I am sorry we have failed you.
This letter is also a note of gratitude for your willingness to report this crime, to take the stand, and to endure the viciousness hurled at you this week. I know the words that run in a loop in your mind. Don’t tell. If you tell, no one will believe you. If you tell, everyone will think you are a whore. Sometimes he is the one who says them first, spewing the words like mold spores that grow in the darkness of your silence. Sometimes it’s your own voice telling you, I can’t tell. No one will believe me. It’s the reason 54% of survivors never report the assault. It’s the reason I kept my secret for nearly a decade. But not you, beloved. You demanded the right to be heard.
You may have lost your voice that night, but you found it again when you told the truth–even though you knew, didn’t you? You knew just how relentlessly they would try to silence you.
You knew that neighbors, and friends, and even members of the national media would mourn the loss of your attackers’ football careers more than the loss of your innocence. You knew that even those who claimed to be sympathetic would pass along the pictures of your assault with a tone deaf voyeurism that seeks to make you a thing instead of a person. I think maybe you knew, or suspected these things, but you spoke out anyway.
And that…that is astonishing. And I want to say thank you, because you did what so many of us never find the strength to do. You spoke for yourself. You spoke for the 44% of rape victims who are under 18–and you spoke for my 14-year-old self, who still hears that threat echoing in my head, “Don’t tell. No one will believe you.”
So, this is my apology and this is my gratitude. This is me saying, “I believe you.”
And I believe you are inherently valuable. Not as a character in some grotesque news cycle where your assault is all we know, but as a girl with hopes and dreams and ambitions and vulnerabilities and so much more growing up to do. I never need to know your name, but I need you to know you are not alone. Surviving is not a single occurrence, it is a lifetime of making choices that honor you and your right to speak. You have begun surviving. You will continue surviving. And if you ever get down, or wonder how you will go on, take out this letter and read it to yourself.
I believe you.
A Jason Molina who was broadly embraced… wouldn’t have been Molina at all.