“In Which I Name My Abuser Publicly” by Meghann Plunkett

Meghann Plunkett


and they appear from the under-eaves.      A litter of women
herding toward the full-stop        of his name.      Tall,

pretty,      they are        stained with his sweat too.
I say his name and pull strands of other women’s hair

from my mouth.      All of us dusked and      outstretched,
lapping at our wounds. One of them yanking his tooth

from her thigh,      another flinching      at blue-birds, trying
to remember what isn’t      dangerous.            Look

at the batch of us he devoured    two by two.    How he found
us like a bomber’s screen scanning the land

for human heat–            reaching down for us under the heel
of his boot.            One, with the scent of him still

stinking off of her,      sobs out a full      cask of wine.   
Look at what he made            brick      by      brick,

a parade of fraying,      a brothel on our breath,      dresses tailored
to fit an unnamed grief.      We know what it means

to jewel out our doubt in a thick,      silent shucking.      What
happened?      What      happened?      That sulfur residue

of match-light. Here we are. The girl with a spine like a church
staircase,      the girl who snapped like a guitar string.

And the last one he sought out to look just like me.      Beaten
into the same speech impediment,      wearing my face

like a bathrobe.      I say his name and here we are. Here we are.

Poets Respond
June 27, 2017

[download audio]


Meghann Plunkett: “This poem is in response to a bill in North Carolina that is currently under scrutiny. The bill removes a loophole from a 1979 North Carolina Supreme Court ruling that meant a person who originally gave consent at the start could not revoke their consent during the act. If the act became violent, for instance, and the victim said ‘stop,’ the predator was under no legal obligation to do so. This poem deals with how common abuse is, especially for women. How often violations are not realized until after the fact, and how often there is a long line of victims when an abuser is not held accountable, or has the ability to deflect accusations. This is why we often see a bevy of women coming forward together.” (web)

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