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A Theory of Violence

By Jennifer Perrine

-- after New Delhi, after Steubenville

Under the surface of this winter lake,
I can still hear him say you're on thin ice
now,
my heel grabbed, dragged into the opaque
murk of moments--woman raped on a bus;

girl plunged into oblivion, taken
on a tour of coaches' homes, local bars,
backseats of cars, the sour godforsaken
expression on each classmate's face; the dark,

the common route home, faint footfalls behind.
How many times have I bloodied my fist
against this frozen expanse to remind
myself there is another side, hope-kissed,

full of breath? I howl. The water begs, drown,
its hand pressing tight, muffling every sound.

Added: Wednesday, July 9, 2014  /  Used with permission.
Jennifer Perrine
Photo by Justin Huck.

Jennifer Perrine is the author of No Confession, No Mass (University of Nebraska Press, 2015), winner of the 2014 Prairie Schooner Book Prize in Poetry; In the Human Zoo (University of Utah Press, 2011), recipient of the 2010 Agha Shahid Ali Poetry Prize; and The Body Is No Machine (New Issues, 2007), winner of the 2008 Devil’s Kitchen Reading Award in Poetry. Jennifer teaches courses in creative writing and social justice and directs the Women’s and Gender Studies program at Drake University in Des Moines, Iowa. Please visit her website.

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