I spent much of my early life in a tiny community on California’s distant North Coast. Isolation breeds secrets; the peaceful dark of an old-growth redwood forest provides easy cover for violence, and speaking out carries devastating social consequences—especially for women and girls. I wondered: what if their whispers grew teeth?
Here’s a secret we small-town girls
don’t spill: we’ve all been gutted
once. We’ve bled out in backwater
soil, our bodies bare as teeth. We’ve
worn our entrails like halos. We
chainsmoke our days to sear away
shame. We’re a pack: share a
drag, shed our pain.
He’s got a name
we don’t speak. But we
feel it, raw as fever, a growl
like bloodstained gravel in our
throats. We rise like hackles. We
howl at the hard-choke approach
of his truck. We wait.
He’s got a scent
we can sense on the
crosstown wind. New girl at his
side. New prize; new price of
living in a place where no one
minds when the next girl goes
missing, or comes home changed—
unclothed, broken, scarred and
enslaved to the fearful rhythm
of the moon. He parks. He
opens the door. We move.
He’s got to run.
He’s outnumbered. He knows
the paths through the hills like the
shape of our discarded bodies but
we’ve since grown fast. We outpace,
outflank. We snap at the boots that
kicked us down, gnaw the hands
that beat us. He shrieks for his
mother with a mouth
that called us
He bleeds out alone on an
unnamed street, wears his
bowels like a woven crown.
Distant, his new girl screams.
We keen to the moon
for this last woman
Then we right ourselves, light a
smoke, and sigh our secrets all
Spread the word!