Emmalee Hagarman When I Visit Emily Dickinson's Grave

it is possible to forget June

sun, blister blood, sweat stinging

my ankles, and reach

across the black gate to touch her

tombstone if I want. Girls

take selfies beside the lilacs

and little notes above Emily’s

name, send to moms. Are you

all good? Forget the old

man who takes off his

shirt, covers a grave and punches

it, hard as he can, beside me.

His grief. The world

tells me in so many ways

it was my fault: a woman

walking across creaky floorboards

in Amherst’s bookstore says,

“No one could sneak up

on you in here, huh?” How

could you let this happen?

Anything’s a trigger—blue

Gatorade at the gas station, the

kind the nurse made me

drink after taking Plan B.

A man who does not

let go of my hand after

he shakes it. The night

I was raped, blood

seeped through my jeans

as I walked back

to my room. Are you all

good? he asked as he zipped

up his pants and he meant it,

if I remember right. If

I stand under cold water

long enough for my blue

fingers to forget they

held his minutes before he

held me down on the bed.

When a man tells me Life

doesn’t give you trigger

warnings, I bite my cheek hard

enough to draw blood

trying not to ask, what happens

if I forget? What happens

at night, when I hear the door

knob of my hotel room jiggle,

the thud of a body trying

to get inside? When I throw

open the door, the drunk

girl who thinks this is her

room jumps when she sees

the look on my face.

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