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I'd like to go back
but I wouldn't change
Frank's death at the railroad bridge or my decision to
never go home again.
Nor would I remove the times I was broken, cut, wore myself out
or had someone else beat me up
crack my knees
or force me to overdo something
because I "had to".
I would still allow myself to take every threat leveled at me by dark,
hard men who were stronger, better-dressed and had more to lose than I,
as a serious one.
I would maintain every injury for as long as it took to heal,
with the aggravation mentally and reckless strain physically
I placed upon my body; I wouldn't die
a prettier corpse.
I wouldn't experience anything physically different at all.
I would like to go back
every instance of pain into interesting, exhilarating
Change every act of rape and violent, angry sex
and I'd change my taking money from men for sexual favors
into those men giving me money for sexual favors.
I'd change the fact that I myself needed to move on
into the fact that we all,
all of us ever in contact with one another,
needed to move on, together.
I'd change Wanting to Get Out
into looking forward to experiencing
I'd exchange lifelong, rending guilt
at my baby brother's death
I'd change every instance of stealing
into accepting provision.
I'd make the lies I was living
into baby steps
along with other tentative, dangerous men
touching each other's truth once or twice, violently or
swiftly and less aggressively,
nudging into each other
until we saw
that they weren't lies we were living at all
but ways to get across
to where we could turn and visualize
what every rape, theft, murder and whoring had really been.
Then we could move on.