by Hadley Dion
Hadley Dion is a writer and filmmaker from Los Angeles. Her poems have been published or are forthcoming in Scapegoat Review, FreezeRay Poetry, Nixes Mate Review, and more. She spends her free time volunteering at her local cat rescue and crafting punch needle rugs. You can find more of her work at hadleydion.com.
They want us to be quiet
Originally published in Witches Mag
Sinister gentlemen sway,
past boundary. Stale ale
whispers of sweetheart. Unwanted,
plucky palms on my hips, my knees, my
The uber driver spends freeway
conversation asking how many men
I’ve slept with. Persistent,
pestering for phone number. I wait
for tail lights before entering home.
Sidewalk sniper interrupts my walking peace
with whistles and passenger seat smirk.
Sees me as pavement
darling, paints me
Government goons close my local clinic.
The one that gave me shelter
from impending storm. Screened for disease, lent
options when there were none. They aim
to own my womb.
Amateur party chemists, tampered drinks. I memorize
the bars to avoid. And hallucinate the faces
of monsters who harmed my friends. Curate switch knives,
pepper spray, self defense courses. I buy
Every day brings reminder
that my body is commodity. My autonomy, theirs
to take. At night, my brain drags my image
through abandoned streets, seeking
saving from approaching shadows. But when I open my throat,
fear devours my screams.
Sometimes I succumb. Become contortionist, fold
myself into polite smile, into a dullness
I would not recognize
in the mirror. But other days, I push
back, summon a supernatural
solidarity with every violet
that has marched before me.
Last witching hour, I awoke
from another voiceless nightmare
and spit onto paper:
Reject subtlety. Take up space. Be a menace. Be a miracle.
I am rooting for you to do the same.
Our currency is a wishing well
You fill our home with change.
Dimes on the kitchen counter,
pennies in the cat’s water bowl,
nickels between the sheets,
quarters stuck to the diamond shaped pit behind my knee.
Silver glimmered imprints
on my collar bone.
Pocket change everywhere you kiss.
I can’t vacuum for fear
of copper crushing gears.
I sweep your carelessness into a dustpan,
bristles collecting bus fare
busting from the cracks in the floor.
Our seven-hour first date, every dive bar closed
on our conversation.
We walked into pearl morning, exchanging
miles for more time.
Each step, a metal orchestra.
Even then I felt the undertow of your body,
heavy rusted hurt
Three years paid, I have traced every sharp edge
of your story.
Nestled mouth to meter ear, we share
the legal tender of secrets.
Yours, too-young battles
waged at home.
Mine, collateral scars from a man
I tried to call home.
We don’t owe ghosts.
Abundance is our future, not past.
Now we are safe
to let guards down, you are free
to fill our bathtub with laundry day allowance.
Your loose change, the salt I soak in.
Every debt others took out
on our bodies,
inherited by the drain.