Take Back the Night

Participants in the Take Back the Night March, September 2020, Victoria Park, Charlottetown, PEI

When you looked at me did you see me?

Did you see my arms and think of how wildly they gesticulate when I’m telling a story?

Or did you see my arms and picture how you would use them to pin me down?

Did you see my lips and visualize how they must look when they’re spread apart, smiling?

Or did you fantasize about your mouth pressed against them so hard as to muffle my scream?

Did you look into my brown eyes and ponder how they might light up as I watch the sun rise?

Or did thinking about how the tears would cascade down my cheek send a shiver up your spine?

Did you watch me tuck my hair behind my ear and remember how my mum would spend hours trying to tame it?

Or did you anticipate the power that you would hold over me as you used it to drag me towards you?

Did you look at my hands and see how I used them to guide my little sister across the street?

Or did you imagine how they would feel as you held them pressed against you?

Did you see my legs and picture how powerfully they carried me when I ran?

Or did you try to fathom how far apart they could be spread to accommodate you?

Did you look at my neck and see the small freckle, identical to the one worn by my best friend?

Or did you delight at visualizing your hands wrapped around it so tightly that I had to fight for breath?

And did you see me as a daughter? A sister? A friend?  a human being?

Or did you simply see me as a collection of body parts that were yours for the taking?

Because now when I take a step back to behold myself in the mirror

I don’t see my arms and think of all of the friends that I held close

I don’t see my lips and fondly remember my first kiss

I don’t see my eyes and notice their depth

I don’t see my hair and picture it billowing out behind me as I run

I don’t see my hands and recall all of the blades of grass that I have ran them through

I don’t see my legs and commemorate all of the places that they’ve carried me

     And when I look in the mirror I don’t recognize myself

Because when I look in the mirror

All I see is You.

This poem was contributed to the Charlottetown, PEI, Montreal Massacre Memorial Service by an anonymous survivor of rape. It is read by Chairperson Debbie Langston in the video commemoration of the memorial. It is reprinted here with the permission of the author.

Youth listening
Youth listening to the Heartbeat of Epekwitk dummers, Take Back the Night March, Charlottetown, PEI, September 2020