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.