Why We Didn’t

Our stories kept themselves quiet
as a child hiding in a closet,
breathless, waiting to be found
by whoever was counting to ten.

At first, it was easy for them,
the specter of shame holding
a finger to its lips, saying: shhhh,
you mustn’t tell.

Every day was full of reminders
of what can happen to girls
whose truths are told as rumor.
The stories trembled.

At night, their photographic
details were revealed in dreams
so real, that in the morning
we cried, holding them tight.

Later, when dinner tables,
class reunions, and family picnics
invited memories into the light,
the stories murmured, still here.

Surviving decades in the darkness
of I am not that person anymore
and the heavy silence of lying, still
the stories whispered to us.

Even now, desperate for it to be over,
to shout Here! as they find their friends,
the stories hide, hoping there will be a time
when it is finally safe to come out.

by Anne McCrady

Note: This poem is written in a collective, rather than biographical voice.

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