Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Confess Nothing

Confess nothing

    when they ask
where you’ve been. How could they know

that alley where rats scuttled, moon-lit
among broken beer bottles and the stink
of dumpstered lives. How could they know

the metallic taste on your tongue
when he stuck the gun in and said,
suck or die. How could you possibly

tell them how you ripped red
from his unshaven cheek, shoved
kneecap to groin so he groaned,
and he hammered his fist in rhythm with
your hammering heart, left
you curled and curdled among the rot.

Confess nothing when they ask for it—
some description of his face, the color
of his jacket. How could you say

you had danced in his arms beneath fake stars.

Confess nothing then, when they shake their heads
and persist and insist and say you’re safe
when you know you are not. You are not.

Only later, when we sit in moonlight and years
have dusted your memory and beneath your hairline
the hidden wound has closed and become a scar,
unasked, you will say, I knew his name.

And you will tell me the fake stars and the alley
and you will say, I opened myself to it.

And I will try to convince you otherwise,
but you will shake your head,
press your lips together to confess
nothing of your innocence.

©Ami Mattison, 2011

Flickr photo courtesy of dcJohn


  1. Wow. Ami, this is so powerful. Have you been posting your poetry online? I must have missed it before, but I'm glad I saw this piece. Love the tight choice of words - this is why writers should read poetry!

  2. Do you just sit around all day observing human nature, and more specifially, woman nature? Because you've observed sharply. And written it well. can it be that nobody seems to have found you yet?

  3. I read your words, and I am spent. Shredded. And put back together. I'm so glad we intersected today.

  4. Great theme and love the picture. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Full of human knowledge and compassion, accepting there's no safety and no answer for brutality, or for the guilt with which we choose to invest ourselves, except forgiveness. A whole lifetime in this piece.

  6. Touching, heart-wrenching words, playing up on a very situation facing a great many across the world. These victims, they convince themselves they've brought it on themselves, give themselves unlimited capacity for forgiveness and excuses, surrender to many are gripped by it. We see a woman age in this piece, see where that fear has left her, that haunting memory - haunting piece, very moving in its imagery and description. I know people that have been such victims...always painful to see.

  7. This is an amazing poem. Thank you for the rawness and the honesty of it.