"The rape joke is that you were eight.
The rape joke is that at the time,
you didn’t know people had sex to express love.
The rape joke is that the only other person
who’d seen you naked was your mom.
The rape joke is that he called you ‘beautiful’ first.
The rape joke is that he held your hands together
and told you to ‘try harder’ when you struggled.
The rape joke is that you believed him
when he told you were overreacting.
The rape joke is that your grandma
called him a nice boy and asked him to stay for dinner.
The rape joke is that he winked at you
when you apologized to your parents for not coming
downstairs the first time you were called.
The rape joke is that his friends
high-fived him for “getting some.”
The rape joke is that you still don’t feel like
you’ve regrown the pieces he stole.
The rape joke is that he was conceived when his
dad slapped himself into his snoring mother.
The rape joke is that her friends told her
she was lucky someone wanted her.
The rape joke is that each year in the United States,
32,000 other women’s bellies
ripen with life against their will.
The rape joke is that he never learned
to touch without scarring.
The rape joke is that your classmate thinks
‘have you seen what asses look like in yoga pants?’
is an argument.
The rape joke is your new boyfriend kissing
you and telling you he ‘raped’ his math test.
The rape joke is that ‘Why are girls so scared of rape? Y’all should feel pride that a guy risked his life in jail just to fuck you’
is a popular Tweet right now.
The rape joke is that you wake up to
the memory of him laughing,
“now that wasn’t so bad, was it?”
The rape joke is that it’s been twelve years and
you still quiver when someone touches you.
The rape joke is that he hasn’t stopped laughing.
The rape joke is that you forgot how to."
How is your life with that other one?
Simpler, is it? A stroke of the oars
and a long coastline—
and the memory of me
is soon a drifting island
(not—in the ocean—in the air!).
Souls—you will be sisters—
sisters, not lovers.
How is your life with an ordinary
woman? Without the god inside her?
The queen supplanted—
How do you breathe now?
Flinch, waking up?
What do you do, poor man?
'Hysterics and interruptions—
enough! I’ll rent my own house!’
How is your life with that other,
you, my own.
Is the breakfast egg boiled?
(If you get sick, don’t blame me!)
How is it, living with a postcard?
You who stood on Sinai.
How’s your life with a tourist
on Earth? Her rib (do you love her?)
—to your liking?
Is it life? Do you cough?
Do you hum to drown out the mice in your mind?
How do you live with cheap goods: is the market rising?
How’s kissing plaster-dust?
Are you bored with her new body?
How’s it going, with an earthly woman,
with no sixth sense?
Are you happy?
No? In a shallow pit—how is your life,
my beloved. Hard as mine
with another man?
Marina Tsvetaeva, from “An Attempt at Jealousy” (November 1924)
Translation by Ilya Kaminsky and Jean Valentine