A #MeToo Poem by Sarah Saltiel
I slept with a man who told me he was better at poetry than I was. His lips still exhaling my breaths, I asked him how many poems he had written. “Five,” he said, and five times he kissed me, and when he lifted up my skirt I wanted to count my knuckles into bruises (five), for each one I could pour down on him two years worth of my poetry, five times I bit down to say nothing
the other night I met a man who told me that he liked my language. I filled up his ears with hours of my words because I thought he was listening, my words rolling, I rolled out of his bed and he told me that the next time he heard me read poetry, he would be thinking of my lips on his cock. Do I have to cover my mouth with my hand to say that I care more about the words than the shape of the lips that say them, because even a deaf world would be able to read my lips.
He told me I had intense eyes. It wasn’t an accusation but
it was said in the way that all accusations are said, I said I didn’t mean to undo you/should’ve said my eyes are just the ones I carry with me and I used them to see your naked body but I also use them to see how bright the streetlights are when I walk home alone at night, I use them to see every word that I write, paint, or draw, I am drawing my eyes into something that is sharper than your voice because my breasts are not made to feel good pressing against you— inside that chest lives that thing that beats that beats that beats it commands that I read out my words in beats because I notice my breaths in the pauses between then even if you don’t because there are some days that my breaths and my blinking are the only things I can regulate and I am blacking out from using them both and I want to say that I am tired and I have tried—
I am tired.
I am tired of my poems being viewed not for the sum of their words, but the sum of my body parts, those are not calculations that I know how to make and I am tired of having to catch in my throat the things that I need to say, to allow a man to speak because he wants a second/minute/year of my time because he finds me charming on the street or because he is bored and I am not boring or because he thinks that he might love me but
he doesn’t have time to decide in the definitive.
Last year I sat in a Chinese restaurant with the last person that I loved, and tore at a napkin as he told me that he didn’t have time/ didn’t need to make time for the thoughts of women in his study of philosophy, was too busy with the writings of men on their platonic love affair with their god, he was too busy fellating Michaelangelo’s David and wouldn’t I like to join him? I said/wanted to say that my lipstick like bloodclots might stain the marble and in the restaurant, staring him down over pork dumplings (with eyes softer than his voice) because I loved him because I knew that I loved him I held my words and counted to five.