I have a woman’s history
of not being listened to, how do I begin?

Do I begin with rape or do I end
there? My niece said
never tell me anything like that
again, as if it happened to her
not to me. A grown woman
with three small children
how will she protect them
if she’s outraged by truth?

Violence sits at the breakfast table.
My ex complains about dust under the bed
tells me to mop the floors every day.

Violence follows me from the subway
down a street in Paris
the only place open a small hotel.
I go inside talk to the owner for twenty minutes
but the guy is waiting down the darkened street
and continues after me until I’m running
down the dead-end street I live on
turn around breaking a finger hitting him,
scream until the neighbors yell out their windows.

Two old women invite me in
give me ice for my finger, wine
homemade plum tart, loaning me strength
to go upstairs alone.

I don’t know who will listen
or if I will be punished for speaking.
I have demands.