Years ago a young man I knew asked me how he should treat his prom date. I told him to think about how he would want his sister to be treated. I meant protect.
This admonition came back to haunt me as I learned about many, many people who did not protect family members and strangers in situations of sexual vulnerability.
I asked myself what advice do you give?
Protect is a powerful word. It means if you are the older person, the person in authority, the soberer person, the bystander, it is your job to treat the child, the older person, the person who is not able to consent, or the person who is in your power as off limits sexually. It is your job to keep that person safe, no exceptions.
If you are the kind of person prone to sexual aggression, all this may seem toothless. But I don’t believe it is. I believe that you (whoever you are) really need to assume there is an interventionist God. One who makes no excuses for rape.
The lady in the picture is a fraction of her whole-a bit of glasses, hair like mine. Did she shape the assignment or was it the Wizard of Oz for freshman comp? I don’t know, but as with so many words shaped into injunctions it sticks in my craw–pick the one thing? Not a good thing? Not one among brothers? I suspect literary ambush, which then feels like literary paranoia, but I kick around/go into the weeds with this one thing-
You. You are the one thing. The voice in my head steadying my coward’s heart. My man, Jesus I tell Madeline about that universal division of time into before and after You.
Like if you believed in evolution it would be 50 billion, million zillion years BCE, and those sylphish, wispy 2000 after.
Let me just
Tag along after you
I once read about a woman who believed she could dissipate
…the clouds with her mind
but after much thought I have decided I do not want them to go
I see all their stories
As though God Himself were
Finger painting sand art
Casually insinuating angel wings here or the mirror reflection of the map of China in fluffy white
Clouds like babies come and go
Maybe they too grow up
Go to college, stop needing us anymore as we gaze up at them snow-globed in blue sky beneath inky infinite wonder, fields of burning stars,
Called all by name.
Poetry or prose.
For the last three weeks I have had hives. Still have hives. I have sifted words in and out of how this feels and each time all words have come up short. They do not stop the itch. Like quack doctors, snake oil salesmen, or phone-a-gypsy psychics they play at reading my palms then leave me with no…
No salve for my slowly metamorphic
So I threaten them with silence or just undoing their fragile orthographic pieces unbending bes and esses into straight black lines
Because from geometry we know
Lines go on forever (in either direction)
Moving away from the itchy round helpless
Woman who once loved them
Out to the ends of time and light
To the place where God
hears our wordless
Isaiah 53:4-5 KJV Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.  But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
All my injunction are sinuous at 3 a.m. Will pay tomorrow for this singular inability to sleep now for the child is sick and I must watch over her.
Vigil, promise not to go.