We Cannot Forget

[TW for discussion of sexual violence.]

Every time I listen to Andrea Gibson's "Blue Blanket" (transcript here), I hear something new. Her words are so dense and so powerful that it's impossible to catch everything on even the first ten listens; and yet, some lines are unforgettable from the moment they're first heard. I don't often listen to the poem though, because it touches on such a deep, painful topic - rape.

Tonight, the lines that struck me were "... if even a few of us forgot / what too many women in this world cannot", and the lines that have stuck with me in the years since I first heard them are "she's heard stories of Vietnam vets who can still feel the tingling of their amputated limbs / she's wondering how many women are walking around this world feeling the tingling of their amputated wings".

Those first two lines are the reason rape culture exists. Too many people have forgotten what too many women cannot. A single drop of empathy, of humanity, into the cocktail of distractions that we daily consume, would begin to dismantle the constructs that work to prevent earth-bound women from flying again.

Survivors of sexual violence have their entire worldview, their day-to-day functioning, changed; twisted into a grim shadow of the beauty that once was. We learn to live with it, but, like the amputee that can still feel the ghost of lost limbs, we still feel the tingling of lost innocence.

And we look up at the people who can still fly, who mock because we have been thrust to the earth by the throat of our trust, and despair that they have forgotten.

I can never forget.

But I am determined, someday, to fly again.

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