Why you cannot hear me

Because good girls don’t make a scene;
because it isn’t ladylike to swear.
Because of “shriek,” “screech,” and “shrill,”
the vocabulary of shame.

Because strong protest is, methinks,
too often twisted and turned back.
Because denial tied my tongue.
Because of the breath shocked out of me.

Because of your hand across my mouth.
Because you told me not to cry out.
Because if I had spoken out
who would have believed me?

Because I didn’t know the words.

Because I was taught to be quiet
and nice, hold my tongue,
bite my lip, my voice
has a tendency
to trail away…

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