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color I remember

Shame is the color I remember
an empirical shade – no hiding in the back of the room.
My mother dressed me in it;
head to toe on Sunday,
partially clad in it the rest of the week,
my sins an insufficient garment.
Even young, I seemingly required
daily lessons on how to be a “good girl”
and how she prayed I would become one;
each time placing the adult responsibility
on my slight shoulders like an over-dyed robe.
My brother and father apparently incapable of sin,
of consequence; “It’s the girls that tempt”.
She knew I did not say no –
did not untie the knots fast enough.
Even baptism at eight did not remove my sins;
she was not fooled by the innocent white
of the baptismal garments
or the cotton panties.
Her god required repentance, retribution;
“It’s the girls that tempt”.
Yes, I learned the two different lessons
in leather;
that which can bind – can bite white flesh.
Both required panties around the ankles.
Do not say no but do not say yes.
Do not speak it aloud.
What happened did not happen. Was not done by him.
In the long run, it is the longer lesson I took.

I wear purple now =
it is a color I’m not ashamed of.

About this poem

Trigger warning: abuse, sexual assault Published in Free From Monsters: Poetry by Survivors of Abuse. Western Oregon University Printing.2019

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Written on September 08, 2010

Submitted by Ariel on September 19, 2021

1:04 min read


Ariel is a full-time Pacific Northwest poet, often participating at Oregon Open Mics events. She has been published in Gold Man Review, AIM, The Widow’s Handbook, and most recently in Terra Incognita, On The Platform Waiting and Free From Monsters. Ariel often collaborates in many Willamette Valley poetry/art projects and is a member of Oregon Poetry Association, Mid-Valley Poets Association, Willamette Writers and Poet. Her website is poetariel.net. more…

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"color I remember" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 18 Jan. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/109955/color-i-remember>.

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