when after morning drop-off I change the station from KISS-FM to the Kavanaugh hearings

In the car we rewrite pop songs so that

Selena Gomez sings I want to hold you

in my mind enclosure and I

and my seven-year-old girl, we sing along.

The other day in despair I thought maybe I should tell her

now, before she’ll need to know, how to fend off

the world, I mean eyes I mean words I mean

hands on her. My mind enclosure struggles

to even think this thought. But it’s all over

the radio: girls and women only just now learning

words for what was done or almost done, for what had

undone them wordlessly. I want her to have words.

I want nothing done to her. I want for her

an entirely different language. The time I went with a friend

to some lame grad student party: suburban ranch house,

my first week in a new town, people standing around.

Halfway through my one drink, I was

encased in my own body, mummified awake,

could not speak, could barely walk. I was lucky.

My friend hauled me home to sleep it off. I never

went there again. Filed no complaint with any

authority, advisor, safe human. Because nothing

happened, didn’t it? Did it? All my eloquent

application essays, my conference talk, my study

of five languages, gave me no words for

that. You’re okay. Move along, file away.

To tell her these things is to

darken her whole world. To not tell her

invites lyrics that can’t be

rewritten, forgotten, misheard.


Chloe Martinez's poems have appeared or are forthcoming in publications including Waxwing, The Normal School, The Collagist, PANK, and The Common. She is a two-time Pushcart Prize nominee, a semifinalist for the 2018 Perugia Prize, a book reviewer for RHINO and a reader for The Adroit. She is the Program Coordinator for the Center for Writing and Public Discourse at Claremont McKenna College, as well as Lecturer in Religious Studies. See more at www.chloeAVmartinez.com.

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