AN INCOMPLETE LIST OF LAST-MINUTE ALLEGATIONS
This is a smear, plain and simple. I look forward to testifying on Thursday about the truth, and defending my good name—and the reputation for character and integrity I have spent a lifetime building—against these last-minute allegations.
She swore before God that she hid
because she was naked and the angel
in the shape of a snake had tricked her.
She presented an affidavit proving that
when one is knowledgeless, one believes
all sorts of things. The fruit was ripe
and she was hungry after all. But the Lord
said he wanted her to be naked without
knowing she was naked. The snake
would never be at fault. For snakes
will be snakes and everyone knows a snake
can’t help but slither. And just what
was she doing strutting around
the garden—naked, inviting serpents
to talk talk talk and take take take.
Because rape doesn’t always mean
rape, and who’s to say really. No
eyewitnesses, no probable cause.
Even memory betrayed her, hazy
with drink and youth. Like the women
from Sabines who said they were
charmed by the city anyhow. Caught
on the battlefield between husband
and father, what else to do but offer up
their bodies in the name of peace. Later,
in the kitchen, preparing parsnips and boiled
wheat, some tried to name what happened
on the long road to Rome. But who
would listen to a woman speak of such
private wrongs? No charges were filed,
they’d say. After all these years,
they say. Testimony against a soldier
a swan a brother a bull a father a god.
Outcomes include but are not limited to
her becoming a slut a gorgon a wife a tree
a joke. She was his wife his friend
his patient his student his property his
his—and just who did she think she was.
She knew because her mother told her.
So she let her words metal in her mouth,
taste of bitten tongue. She knew
because she saw who they burned,
never could cook pork again without
remembering. Taught her daughters how
to scatter memory like smoke. She knew
because she saw what happened when
her neighbor burned the steak and how
the others pretended not to see. How easy
it’d be if only she could train herself
to unsee, to unbruise like a miracle
fruit. She waited because she was
told to and she was told to do
as she’s told. Days taught her that.
Nights, too. She waited so long time became
a page absent of her. No proof or trace.
So long that when she spoke, her voice
seemed to stain all that white
space. A smear of oil against flesh.
At the last minute—an anointing
to ward off demons, though her faith
had almost run out. She’d already tried
everything else and had nothing left
to lose. At the last minute she spoke
and her word was the beginning/enough.
—from Poets Respond
October 2, 2018
Danielle DeTiberus: “The title for this poem was inspired by Brett Kavanaugh’s official statement, issued by the White House, in response to the allegations brought forth by Christine Blasey Ford.” (web)