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By Kristin Sanders
Thank you to the man in Las Vegas who ripped my tampon out and went down on me anyway who waited who didn’t put it in me when I said no let’s wait till you come out to California since I was a virgin and of course he did not know that I was a virgin he said ok I will wait till I come out to California and we didn’t even exchange phone numbers when I left. Thank you to the man on the plane ride home from Las Vegas who held my hand and touched my leg and wasn’t mad at me when I took my hand away mad enough to find me during my layover like I was afraid of hiding in the bathroom. Thank you to the high school biology teacher who went to jail for fucking a student the year after I graduated. Thank you to the boys I led on and lay beside or on top of and rubbed against or dry humped vigorously and did not intend to fuck. Thank you to the fathers of my friends. Thank you to the boys who walked me to my car late at night in the dark to protect me from other boys. Thank you to my father thank you to my uncles thank you to the friends of my father the friends of my sister and the friends of my mother. Thank you to the boys I loved. Thank you to the boys I didn’t love. Thank you to strangers. Thank you to the seventy-year olds who I danced with enough times in a row that they got a hard-on and mentioned it. Thank you to the professors who didn’t shut the doors to their offices. Thank you to the boys who saw me walking wearing that outfit like a real slut. Thank you to the boys who saw me dancing that way like a real slut. Thank you to the boys who heard me talking that way like a real slut. Thank you to the boys who slept in my bed thank you to the boys who slept on my sofa thank you to the boys who slept in a hotel room a tent a train car with me. Thank you to the boys who drove to the bar to pick me up when I was too drunk and dropped me off at my apartment. Thank you to the employers the customers the landlords the neighbors the doctors the dentists the priests the babysitters’ boyfriends. Thank you to the students who were older than me who were younger than me who liked me who hated me because I turned them in for plagiarism. Thank you to the boys who took me to high school dances to prom to dinner to the beach to coffee to drinks who I didn’t know whose last names I didn’t know who I had just met who I had known for years who laid me down in the sand who dug me into the sand who pressed against me hard in the back of a truck on a car seat standing up in a bathroom in a bed laying down against a door in boat in a pool in a zoo in a field on the steps of a public place in a strange apartment in a city I did not know. Thank you that the worst image is the way the blood dripped down my leg when I went to the bathroom after he had ripped my tampon out and how I thought for one moment that I had been because there was blood from some wound and the blood from this wound was running down my thigh until I realized it was menstrual blood so I wiped it up with tissue and put my pants back on and left the room and was not raped.
This poem was first published in Issue 15 of Octopus Magazine.
Kristin Sanders is a New Orleans-based feminist, writer, and educator. She is the author of two chapbooks: Orthorexia (Dancing Girl Press) and This is a map of their watching me,forthcoming from BOAAT. She can be found online at KristinDianeSanders.com and at the Tumblr Books I Read By Women.