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To the Reader: On Publishing a Poem About the Abuse in My Childhood.

Let me first say that I regret sending this document out into the world. And I regret that it has fallen into your hands, and that, having fallen into your hands, I am asking you to read it. I do this not as a performance of brutality to which I want your witness. I do it because it must exist as a reflection of its contrary. In my body the memories were lodged. This writing is a dim bulb on a black cord in the examiner's room.

I prefer you do not attempt to read it. I cannot help but feel responsible for your discomfort. So, as you read, you will feel me tugging it from your hands. I send this document of torture out because it happened to me and happened continuously inside me for the next sixty years.

Completing a poem necessitates a struggle to create a work that exhibits balance and symmetry. I have been hampered by an idea of perfection. I have struggled to please one who mirrors back my unworthiness. But poetry is visceral; it recreates the most primal sense of entitlement to breath and music, to life itself.

I have fixed together an internal form, like a tailor's bodice. I wear it as a self, stiff but useful, stitched together from scraps. Through it, in this new incarnation, I am as vulnerable as a self without mirror.

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Author:Derricotte, Toi
Publication:Prairie Schooner
Article Type:Poem
Date:Dec 22, 2017
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