You are spread across the floor, flattened out,
his hands smoothing the parchment of your skin.
The contours of your body form continents.
He lies on top of you, over the whole world,
and not a moment’s glance does he spare
for the cities in your eyes;
instead he explores the mountain-range of your spine,
the level desert plains of your stomach,
the swelling banks of your breasts,
and then he follows the river downwards,
across the hollow lakes of the gaps between ribs,
until he reaches the crevice of a cave.
Therein he plunges, and he is rough
as he tears through the folds of you
in hopes of pilfering some secret treasure.
(His breath makes sparks fly when his lips grind
against yours, and you burn to the ground.
His fists make sparks fly when your mouth turns
away from his, and he burns you to the ground.
Your eyes are not cities,
Afterwards, people look at you as if you are stained
and you feel like you are walking around
with your skin on backwards;
it doesn’t belong to you anymore,
not after he decided you were a blank canvas
and dipped his brush into the palette
between your legs.
Your beautiful body was a war zone,
no-man’s-land, but he crossed the barbed wire
and now you’re trying to make it a bomb shelter
to protect yourself from others like him:
men with guns who take what they want
without permission, who lay siege and claim
their territory with wooden stakes, spitting bullets
with tongues like flames.
It was not your fault. You were never his to claim.
He may have thought that X marked the spot
but he missed where it warned, Private Property,
No Trespassing, Violators Will Be Prosecuted.
The law might not prosecute him when he talks about
the dress you were wearing, but you’d better fight
because you are hallowed ground, darling,
and no one has an inkling of the right to march
through your gates and declare it their own.
You are like a temple—no, you are greater
than the walls of Jerusalem, and if he knocked down
your altar instead of kneeling at it, there’s no prayer
in any world that can redeem him.
You have been taught to lie back and take it because
somehow no always spells out yes, but do the math;
two letters will never equal those three.
You have been taught it’s your duty to lie back and take it,
but instead take back your skin:
raise it like a flag that you’ll fight for and wear it proudly
backwards, inside-out, right-side-up, upside down—
no matter what, this skin is yours, so draw blood for it
when they try to tear it down.
Inside of you is a lake.
Throw your shame into the water and drown it
because you do not have to be ashamed;
you are not broken,
there is nothing from you that he could take.
The contours of your body form continents
and no one can lie on top of the whole world.
When he flattens you against the floor
and tries to touch, to own, every acre of your skin,
when he tries to make you swallow his bullet,
become a gun: spit it back at him
in a rain of fire and blood, and incinerate him
when he tries to ravage you with his lips.
Your eyes are not wreckages;
they hold vast cities armed to the teeth.
By Martina Dominique Dansereau
Martina Dominique Dansereau is a disabled, non-binary lesbian writer and artist whose work centres on trauma and marginalisation, particularly through personal experiences with violence, disability, mental illness, gender, and LGBT issues. When not entrenched in academia or creating art, xe enjoys reading books with xyr snakes, who often fall asleep between the pages. You can find xem on Twitter and Instagram @herpetologics.