Nightly [Trigger Warning: Allusions to physical/sexual violence]

A typical night like any other
Is the perfect storm
To become a data point
Because you think you’ll be okay
So you forget the pepper spray
In your other purse.
You’re female, small, but old enough
You feel you’re bigger than the world
Your coat can cover everything
You aren’t showing any skin
The empty buildings shower light
No fears hang upon the night
Your last, last thought is assault
No one to lecture danger
When you think you’re an adult.
They tell you to think happy thoughts
They think that will protect you
But ignorance and cell phone screens
Those work for very lucky few
The malice lurking in the dark
Is almost always unexpected
A street, a home, an empty park,
You have yet to be infected.
Once you feel it, once it’s gone
Once you have survived.
Your life has changed, a switch’s been switched,
An instinct has arrived.
You understand you might be prey
So you bow your head,
It’s better to be meek and small,
Than to wind up dead.
You ask your friends to understand
So you’re never all alone,
And even though you wear it all
You feel like skin and bones.
For all you lost that single night
A tiny shred of sanity
You can’t regain security
The one you took for granted.
Now your view is a little dark
The way you see is slanted
No eye contact, smile shy
Your sanctity is tainted
But now you know how brave you are
Every time you step outside
Now you see how it could be
When you close your eyes.
You mimic tallness and stand up straight
And stare at the absence of light
You pray to luck and maybe fate
And walk out into the night.

-Melisa Im

To read about the experiences that inspired this poem read: HERE and HERE

[Image: “dark alley” protected by a Creative Commons license belonging to renee_mcgurk]

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