Rachel Batya

Truth has started to call to me.

First, as wordless pain,
Turning in me quietly, pushing at my gut in the early dawn.

Truth is coaxing itself into the corners of my eyes.

 Truth is running down my cheeks, silently,
& falling down the stream of my neck,
into the hollows I have carved in my shoulders.

Truth is reminding me that my first language
was always         weeping.

Truth is begging to be fished out with cupped hands & kept close
so it does not run through the gaps in my fingers
when you say        doubt.

Truth was always waiting
to be invited          to my lips,
Asked out onto my tongue,


Truth was waiting to whisper,
This body was used as a graveyard,
As a tiny potter’s field
for your legacy of hate.

Truth is excavating itself now
from the hips you popped open so easily,

From the jawbone you cracked into an O, in a far off night.

From the curve of a spine, that could only grow bowed.

Welcome to this holy unveiling,
Where what you tried to bury
Reveals     itself
More clearly, each time it rains.

Where what you tried to make part of me
Sings itself up       -a separate artifact,
As bone forces itself up from the earth
& begs to be known,
after a storm.


Author Statement

I am a survivor of child sex trafficking and organized abuse. I write, teach, and make art to honour the children who lost their lives to this kind of violence. I wrote this poem for survivors who are able to speak their truth and for survivors who are not safe enough to speak their truth. I was thinking about people who are choosing now to speak publicly about sexual violence while holding in my heart the many more people who are threatened with continued violence if they speak. Connecting to shared humanity and power is the best part of poetry for me. Thank you for reading!

Learn more about Turtle Island Responds

Rachel Batya is a teacher and artist. This is her first published poem.

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

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

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