“Dear Critic,” by Stevie Edwards

You can chant bitch, weak thing, idiot,
all night if you want.
Tell me all the slutty things about my hands,
how they didn’t fight the bearded man off
when he dragged me back into the apartment
after I’d started to run,
how I’ll always smell like him, menthol
shaving cream deposited deep in my dermis.
Tell me I’ll never get over it, running
out of apartments, out of towns,
out of my body again and again
the paramedics siphoning me back in,
fluids, charcoal, whatever it takes
to make a woman live. Tell me
I don’t deserve it, this life, this cozy body
no man has touched since August,
this bed, lavender sheets, clean
as I want them. You can call me
all my nastiest names. I am shutting
myself into my quietest room,
barricading all the roads with heavy furniture.
You’ll have to find a new girl to ruin.

Stevie Edwards is a poet, editor, and educator. Her first book, Good Grief, was published by Write Bloody in 2012 and subsequently won the Independent Publisher Book Awards Bronze in Poetry and the Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award. She is editor-in-chief of Muzzle Magazine and Acquisitions Editor at YesYes Books. She lives in a castle in Ithaca, NY.

Photo by Hannah Jackson

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