they did

By 
Jane Shi

you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
            you don’t believe your father could do this to your mother.
            you don’t believe your mother could do this to your sibling.
            you don’t believe your teacher could
            you don’t believe your best friend could               you couldn’t believe
            you don’t believe your police officer could             you could do this
            you don’t believe your social worker could           to the ones you love
            you don’t believe your favourite writer could             (and don’t)
            you don’t believe your therapist could                       but you did.
            you don’t believe your religious leader could              you did.
            you don’t believe your activist family could
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend.
you don’t believe your queer friend could do this to your other queer friend. 
                                     but they did. they did.

 


Author statement:

“I can’t believe it.” “They’re a good person.” “They could never...” These words are so familiar they’re almost tattooed on my skin. But sometimes I also wonder if I am somebody else’s “couldn’t have possibly done it.” With the cruel and unrelenting attention in the media on famous and powerful men in #CanLit, academia, the theatre world, the music industry, the comedy world, and the U.S. government, to name a few, it’s easy to forget how ordinary sexual violence and abuse are.

I wrote this poem because I can no longer put any more of this news in my body. I wrote it to puncture the inflated hot air balloon that is the mainstream media, constantly edging out queer and trans stories of violence that happen in my communities every day. To grieve the messiness, repressed so deep within us that we become experts at pretending. Which survivors get believed? If we so easily learn to protect the most violent instincts within us, can we also learn to trust what our bodies remember?

Learn more about Turtle Island Responds

Jane Shi is a queer Chinese settler writing and living on the unceded traditional and ancestral territories of the Musqueam, Tsleil-Waututh, and Squamish First Nations. Her poetry has appeared in LooseLeaf, Poetry Is Dead, ditch,, and Tributaries, and is forthcoming in SAD Mag. When she's not eating dumplings, dancing, and watching stressful documentaries about cults, she organizes art workshops for Chinese seniors at WePress Vancouver and is a student at The Writer’s Studio Online at Simon Fraser University. She can be found on Twitter and Facebook @Pipagaopoetry.

“It's Canadian, feminist, and one of my favourite things ever.”

—bucketofrhymes, "29 Amazing Literary Magazines You Need To Be Reading", Buzzfeed Books

Room relies on subscriptions from readers like you. Help us continue to promote and support diverse women and genderqueer authors and artists by subscribing today.

SUBSCRIBE

Currently on Newsstands

  • Room 41.4, Emergence
    Edited by Alissa McArthur

    In this issue:

    Tharuna Abbu, Farah Ali, Kristin Bjornerud, Michelle Chen, Nomi Chi, Morgan Christie, Kim Fu, Hannah Graff, nancy viva davis halifax, Ceilidh Isadore, Liz Kellebrew, Jo Lee, Kris Ly, Melanie Mah, Sara Mang, Katie McGarry, Estlin McPhee, Triin Paja, Loghan Paylor, Nagmeh Phelan, Oubah Osman, Lisa Rawn, Yvonne Robertson, Erika Thorkelson, Cara Waterfall

    .