Punished for Being a Woman ―Auriel Haack

On a side road near my house while on an early morning run:
“Hey, baby, I know another way to make you sweat.”
The driver of the truck punches the gas and spits gravel in my face.
I barely notice, too stunned by the words.
He was old enough to be my father.

On a city sidewalk:
“Hey, purple shirt! Hey, nice tits! Smile for me!”
I lock my jaw. Put my head down and keep walking.
God knows it’s not the first time.
God knows it won’t be the last.

On a dance floor:
Unfamiliar hands pressed flush against my skin.
A foreign mouth lunging for me.
I skitter back and his mouth collides with my collarbone.
He walks away, throws “fat bitch” over his shoulder
like his palms weren’t just skimming my thighs.
Everyone will see the bruise peeking from my collar and give me the look that says
they know what I’ve been up to.
I will not know how to tell them that I was trying to run.

Everywhere I go:
I am being punished.
I have committed the unforgivable crime of being a woman, but
I am not sorry. I will not apologize for having this body.
I don’t know what it would be like to not be afraid. But I am trying.
I will not smile. I will not look their way.
I will be unapologetic, and strong, and beautiful, and brave. 

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