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They Want Us to Be Quiet

by Hadley Dion

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

lipsticked rebel

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

pulling you


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.



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