Writing in Alonissos, Greece
by PRISCILLA ORR
As I round the bend to meet the other women, the Aegean startles
me. This is the water of Odysseus. Even if I can’t hear the peril
in the sweet song of a siren, something within me stirs.
We’re told to write from a body part. I write from my breasts
breaking my own taboo. Writing is like this on some days,
the raw pulp of a poem rushing out of me. For years, hefting
up these two pear-like portions of my body, I have called them
beautiful, told them this struggle is not our fault. After decades
of silence, an old voice still wants to muzzle me. How do I unearth
this fear, purge it, if I can’t even sing out over this sea. Later
as I swim in a cove, the salt water lifts me. My breasts are buoyant.
The girl in me who was raped at nine – giggles. Yet even as I write this,
I have to explain. If I wasn’t penetrated, how can it be rape? Or
at 15, the hot breath of my stepfather on my neck, as he slammed me
against a door, rubbed his body over mine, I wasn’t penetrated then either.
Yet I knew what it was like to hide in my home, my mother always
at work. Would this be the night that he got me? On this island, under olive
trees, ugly surfaces – all those years of silence, all those years I shut down.
But even as time bears down on me, desire rises. Is it too late? I am no siren,
no danger to a good man, but like a sea nymph, can I croon a spell around him,
drawing him into my body, my breasts – stunned by their own hunger for him.