Emmalee Hagarman When I Visit Emily Dickinson's Grave

it is possible to forget June

sun, blister blood, sweat stinging

my ankles, and reach


across the black gate to touch her

tombstone if I want. Girls


take selfies beside the lilacs

and little notes above Emily’s

name, send to moms. Are you


all good? Forget the old

man who takes off his


shirt, covers a grave and punches

it, hard as he can, beside me.

His grief. The world


tells me in so many ways

it was my fault: a woman


walking across creaky floorboards

in Amherst’s bookstore says,

“No one could sneak up


on you in here, huh?” How

could you let this happen?


Anything’s a trigger—blue

Gatorade at the gas station, the

kind the nurse made me


drink after taking Plan B.

A man who does not


let go of my hand after

he shakes it. The night

I was raped, blood


seeped through my jeans

as I walked back


to my room. Are you all

good? he asked as he zipped

up his pants and he meant it,


if I remember right. If

I stand under cold water


long enough for my blue

fingers to forget they

held his minutes before he


held me down on the bed.

When a man tells me Life


doesn’t give you trigger

warnings, I bite my cheek hard

enough to draw blood


trying not to ask, what happens

if I forget? What happens


at night, when I hear the door

knob of my hotel room jiggle,

the thud of a body trying


to get inside? When I throw

open the door, the drunk


girl who thinks this is her

room jumps when she sees

the look on my face.


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