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Am I Dirty?

a poem by Andrea Davenport, Junior Secondary English Education Major

Content Warning: Themes of Depression, Sexual Assault


I cannot shower. If I shower then I leave home

If I leave home I get lost in the voices and I can’t find my way back.

I can’t hide from the voices that nibble in my head.

The voices that scream when I lay down to bed On a pillow that harbors The Hat Man’s dream

And tiptoes into my earswhen my eyes are closed And I cannot say no. No thank you. Maybe tomorrow night.

The voices don’t like to be rejected. Their egos are fragile. If I shower then I am perpetually stuck In the cold air that gently caresses my naked body

Before it sinks its teeth into my spine and Slithers its way inside my bones without my consent. It touches me the second I leave home and I don’t like it But it won’t stop because I can’t say no because its ego is fragile

And I don’t want to make it angry. When it’s angry it hangs itself around my throat

And throws me against the bathroom tile

Grabs my wrists and fucks me hard. At least when I don’t say no it goes slow.

Then it doesn’t hurt so bad. If I shower then I stand silently In pungent bubbles that slink up my thighs. The water traces my crevices and violates the outside,

But it goes slowly. It wants to touch me. It cups my breasts and licks my goose-bump skin

Before it shoves its tongue down my throat And tells me I like it. It’s slimy and bumpy and I thought

Water was supposed to be smooth and flavorless But it’s sour and salty and stuck in my esophagus

And won’t leave because it says I like it. It says I like it but I don’t and I shouldn’t have showered

And let my feet touch the cool water that was supposed to

Clean me but only made me dirty. If I shower then I leave home And if I leave home then I can’t say no

And if I can’t say no then I’m dirty

And if I’m dirty then I need to shower. So I cannot shower and I cannot leave home

But at least I can say no because there are no more voices.

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