Tell me about the first time your body was carved into a
carcass, the first time it became a carnal thing
for others to employ, for others to enjoy,
yet yours to carry, yours to endure.
Tell me about the first time your tongue felt tied to your teeth,
beyond your command,
a fruitless fistfight to force someone to listen;
the first time you strived to be pretty enough and polite enough
for someone to listen while you are pleading.
Tell me about the first time you were not afraid of the dark
but terrified of the men lurking in the parking lot,
the first time you were not afraid of a knife but terrified of a careless caress;
the first time you knew you were not hurt in any way that showed,
but still scared, still scarred.
Tell me about the first time you could—finally, finally—fight back,
the fear leaving you like falling leaves, like winter coming,
frost slipping into you, gripping your spine:
naming you cold, cruel, capable.
Naming you new things this time: not bitch, not slut, not
everything shouted at you from open car windows,
whispered in a quiet malice close enough for you to hear,
hissed at you from someone you thought a friend.
Finally: not this blood dripping slow decay
of names that stick to you like blades.
No. New names.
Caring. Surviving. Belonging.
Finally, finally: new names to suit
the new shape of your soul,
the shape of your smiling mouth,
the shape of your shaking fists.
Finally, my love: you are saved and safe.
You did this yourself.
Maria Schiza is a freelance writer and translator from Greece. She was born on May 24th in 1996. She was born and raised in Thessaloniki, Greece. Currently, she is an undergraduate student in the English Philology department in the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki.