Original Sin

1. Along The Fire Trail

I see hard suburban women (indeterminate ages,
unspecified occupations) grimly jogging,
panting, travelling in wary packs,
led by large, anxious dogs (male, straining, castrated), snapping
preemptively, opportunistically, automatically
at dark, hidden genitalia.
Layered in Lycra, spilling from Spandex,
shapeless, inviolate in Kevlar sports-bras,
swathed in double-X-L tees (lurid with
boasts of Martial Artistry) (shrill with sloganeering)--
NOW boosters/NRA boosters: indistinguishable
barring closer scrutiny and
I am unwilling to investigate, to differentiate.

I see young women, ready to fight, ready
to maim, prepared to blind. They brandish hard eye
contact and tight, aggressive hail fellow fuck you

(Lesson 1: Disarm
and emasculate your stalker/assailant
by derailing his fragile fantasies of passive acquiescence.) What if,

(Lesson 2: Strike
at soft tissue, strike decisively at critical, vulnerable flesh,
with intent to cripple, with intent to disable
permanently, with intent to grievously harm.)

what if
I am not an evil

          Roberta Lee
          was beaten and
          raped and strangled and raped and then
          partly clothed, poorly (purposely un)concealed,
          to be stumbled over, to be seen
          by women passing by, on quiet fire trails,
          in the Berkeley hills.

2. On The Street

I prepare myself for ritual avoidance, after sundown,
walking home. I must walk
loudly (I must be audible around corners I cannot even see), I must
follow the path of clearest illumination, to warn of my presence.
I must not
hide in shadow nor follow nor appear
to follow, I must (change my stride, cross the street, hurry to
outpace on parallel routes or turn around to take
the roundabout path or) stand and wait (in open puddles of light--it is
dark now) for footsteps to fade, for fear to find its home
before I can be permitted to find my own.

I forget
if both hands clearly visible (both hands clearly empty) or
if both hands clearly sheathed in pockets (both hands
clearly impotent) is the display to be preferred. I

prepare myself for the sound of keys, jangled as a warning,
clutched in fists, raised proud, the keys
between clenched fingers (those keys are hungry for my liar's face,
those keys are eager for the sockets of my rapist eyes). I
prepare myself for whiffs of pepper spray, for
spotlights and demands for photo ID (yes,
this is my current street address) and (yes,
I understand precaution is the price of) what if,

(Lesson 3: Scream
fire or theft, not rape.)

what if
I am just walking
home, by chance, a

          Sally Mayne
          was abducted by strangers
          on the street, at night. She was tortured and
          raped and shot and then was taken to the Bay
          to be dumped, naked and bloody but
          she broke free
          and ran into the quiet water
          where the final bullet found her.

3. In The Locked Building

I counsel precaution, I advise learning the art of
reflecting surfaces (amplified peripheral vision, enhanced
perception of sudden motion, in panes of glass, in
the smallest chromium objects, in polished floors). I am alert to
the patterns of familiar sounds, to the timing
of silences. I listen to the timbre of inanimate objects, to the
ticking of thermal expansions and contractions, to the power
spectra of footfalls, to the signatures of doors
opening and of doors being partly closed. Motors, the
movement of air, the ozone and harmonics of machinery (hidden,
never unpredictable, given sufficient attention
to detail)--all are known to me. What if,

what if
I could have taught these things?

          Grace Asuncion
          was working, alone, in a room in a locked
          building, where she was stabbed in the back of her neck
          with a pair of scissors and she died slowly, alone,
          from the gradual loss of her blood. Down, down, down

a quiet hallway, down
a silent flight of stairs, outside,
past the panic bars,
through the exit,
I was walking, avoiding
eye contact, seeing
nothing, hearing
nothing, doing

for Bibi and for Sally and for Grace

JDP 97/06

Copyright John D Porter © 1997

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