Sestina for Misogyny, Rape Culture, and Revolution

My English teacher put his fist to my chin as if to punch
me in the face. He gave my jaw a nudge and said “you’re a doll,
kid.” His name sounded like pervert but he taught me to love 
Hemingway, ran to keep his buttons closed, but still couldn’t know 
what it’s like to spin into a waterspout spitting psalms. Getting raped
is a storm like this, like getting in a car accident on the way to school.

Getting raped, pulled over in a parking lot on the way to school 
sprays a shrapnel injury, body splintered while eating cheese. No punch 
or scar, just a pathetic blur pooled across his backseat. Rape 
made me a Dalí clock telling all the wrong times. Raggedy Ann doll, 
Peter Pan collar wilted like lily petals pried open. The nuns didn’t know, 
didn’t excuse my tardies. I closed my eyes while ladies shouted LOVE,

rich ladies in tennis skirts, lipstick blazing O mouths, O, LOVE 
O, while mine melted, a defeated sunset I had to reapply before school. 
Getting raped is a determined bird flopping half-winged in high grass, a know-
it-all too afraid to raise her hand to ask, a gnawing appetite, a sucker punch 
spooling through your bones, a basement flood that claims your favorite doll. 
Waking up to a rape is uncovering a mutation in your DNA. No rape

kit to understand how everything untwists, recoils, reshapes. Rape 
comes back to get you. Big Bad knocking the doors of everyone you love, 
my husband’s ex-girlfriend. My husband. My every sister. Rape is dol-
phin slaughter you lament before all-you-can-eat sushi. High school 
drop-out returned to drop a second time. Rape is a punch 
card Hallmark doesn’t make. There are no congratulations, no

get-well balloons, not for you whose name we aren’t supposed to know 
but goes viral all the same. I sat with my legs open while unraped 
ladies wiped sweat from pastel visors and went home to rum punch, 
and daytime TV. Getting raped is a blinding eclipse, it’s latex gloves, 
paperclips rubberbanded to a spitball slingshot in the school
bully’s hand. Rape is a red mouth turning blue. They got all dolled

up to sweat. He kept doing it until I was dead weight he needed a dolly 
to lift and gave up. That didn’t stop the spectators. Don’t you know rape
is a relationship and a sport? After rape, I came home to my Playskool 
dollhouse. Can you win rape? I was fourteen and a half, but after the rape 
I said fourteen. Rape is an apocalyptic antiwrinkle cream. After rape, love 
grows sticky. My skin spilled clear across the kitchen, tacky punch

I still can’t stop touching as if by stepping and restepping I can punch 
the spot away. Our whistles fail us. Where are you when we need you, love, 
because right now your friend or mine, me or you, is somewhere getting raped?