When I wonder if I’m doing enough
at work, after months of 12 hour days,
pushing it to 15 hours, 17,
& still paperwork undone,
I think of the 400,000 untested rape kits
in the United States which would cost
$500 to $1,500 apiece to test,
I think of no one staying late,
no one writing a grant, no one
opening one of the 400,000, even though
400,000 women were raped & didn’t
shower didn’t try to wash it all away,
& instead talked to a policeman, went
to the hospital, let another stranger
in, took questions, I mean how would
you do in this situation? (or, forgive me forgive me
how did you? are you still fog, cloud?
when you speak is a voice audible, recorded?
can you keep your hands on the wheel? resist the urge
to steer into embankments, the dark fire
road into trees an entrance into somewhere
new somewhere not here not this? ) & then,
the kit unopened on a shelf, even
now I think they’ll blame me –
the police, doctor, nurses,
think I deserved it, young, blackout
drunk, dancing in the early
morning, think I deserved
to be suffocated, gang
raped, to have to die,
to hear them say, oh you didn’t die look
at you, you’re right here.

Kelle Groom is the author of four poetry collections, most recently, Spill (Anhinga Press). Her poems have appeared in AGNI, American Poetry Review, Best American Poetry, The New Yorker, New York Times, Ploughshares, and Poetry, among others. Her memoir, I Wore the Ocean in the Shape of a Girl (Simon & Schuster) was a Barnes & Noble Discover Great New Writers pick, New York Times Book Review Editor’s Choice, and Oprah O Magazine selection. Groom is on the faculty of the low-residency MFA Program at Sierra Nevada College, Lake Tahoe, and Director of the Summer Workshops at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

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