Letters I Wrote to Muriel Rukeyser During My Title IX Investigation

Speak to me. / Take my hand. / What are you now? / I will tell you all. / I will conceal nothing.”


When I was three I broke my father’s nose

with a bat. He said he never had migraines

before that day, but now has them frequently.

I have them several times a month. I earned them

when I hit him square in the mouth. I know better

than to hit people, if not for the trouble,

then for the karma.


My crown must look, to everyone else,

like a white, glass bottle. Empty.

Someone is always aiming at my face

and trying to pry it off, to claim it

as their own. Sometimes their throws hit

right on the cheek, the lip. Everything splits.

bleeds. Looking at my broken face

is how I know, I have your eyebrows. They have to reconcile

their actions sometime.

Someone should say, whatever you summon

you sleep with too.


I believe that I am going deaf

in my left ear. This seems appropriate

for my twenty-third year, the hard earned year.

Some sounds are more audible than others. I hear movement

of water, some voices no longer carry. The trouble began

when so many others failed to hear.

What are you thinking? They have permission to ask

anything of me.


Do you remember my sister Anne? How she killed herself.

Carbon monoxide poisoning. I have her nose,

sometimes I wonder if I am not smelling

the scent of exhaustion. She says

the parts broken apart are actually whole.

It took a violent pulling apart

to understand the fragments are the whole.


I locked myself in the car on Thursday.

I prayed so hard that the lights went out. I left

the church and they think I have no religion.

I begin every prayer the same way, each night. God is the only

one who sees everything. Who believes.

prayer is the only intimate act I have left. Then

the neighbor’s dog barked & scratched at the door. There is nothing,

after all, that I know to be sacred. If I had been good

this would not have happened.

I believe in that.


I wanted you to stroke my hair. My dark threads,

tangled like the darkness in me. Last night the blankets slid

off the bed. If we had been more traditional,

you would have placed it over my body. You would’ve turned off

the lamp and shut the door. Then you would walk down the hall

to take yourself to bed. I would have known.

Did you know?


She said you are a gift,

you change the lives of everyone

who meets you, for the better.

I disagree. She said too, you should learn

 to be selfish. Take it back, turn away from it.

Best of all, she says prepare yourself

for the worst.


Photo Credit: Andrew Mason Flickr via Compfight cc

Lydia A. Cyrus

Lydia A. Cyrus is a creative writer from Huntington, West Virginia. She has non-fiction work featured in several journals, including Luna Luna Magazine where she serves as a staff writer. Her poems can found in places like Quail Bell Magazine and Moonchild Mag. She is a proud Mountain Woman and loves her dog.

Write a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *