We call Night the privation of relish
in the appetite for all things.
St. John of the Cross
She remembers the episode taking place at night.
It is a night-time tale, an allegory perhaps,
she is seized from behind, a forearm across her neck,
snug beneath her chin. She is a child of eleven.
It happens so quickly, it always happens so quickly,
she hasn’t time to scream. And then she hasn’t breath.
It is night, she has begun to choke, she is losing
consciousness, she will forget.
Forgetting is generally recommended.
Her weight, in opposition to his, must be slight.
She will choke, she can’t scream or sob, if she faints
perhaps his anger will be placated.
Nor does she tug roughly at the arm. Nor claw at the face.
(In fact there is no face, because it is night.)
He will not harm her. She is tall for her age, so
he might have been misled.
She often lies. She can’t be trusted.
When she falls to the pavement (they are in an underpass
beneath the railroad tracks) he will release her.
She is not clinically “molested.”
There is no blood except from her scraped knees.
There is no scar or enduring wound
except the night-time tale, the memory
It is always night, she cannot remember it as night,
though wasn’t it afternoon?—she was returning home
from school, descending the steps from the street,
an old route, absolutely safe by daylight.
Still, she remembers the episode taking place at night.
In which she will be proved, twenty years later, a liar.
As for the rest of the tale—isn’t it fictitious?
You’ve always had a queer imagination, she is told.