Categories
Poetry Trauma

smile baby, smile by Shelby Bevins-Sullivan

[TRIGGER WARNING, SEXUAL ASSAULT]

forgive me--
     i don't mean to disturb you,
the thunder in my head rattles every night,


your eyes, a somber shade of lapis,
whimper, isn't my love enough?
       and it is, it is, it's always enough--


i just forget that when a hand
       lands firmly on my shoulder,
it's your pink, plump, sugared lips


awaiting our wake-up kiss,
               not the thin grin of a breathing gargoyle,
               the one that clawed my breasts,
               tore my labia til they bled. 


being still helps me get through the hours,
                 you say, they all say:
                 smile, baby, smile,
                 smilebabysmile,
                 ssss mmmm iiii llll eeee


but smiling is what got me 
hurt in the first place. 

Shelby Bevins-Sullivan is an attorney. She has published work in And So Yeah MagazineThe Harpoon ReviewThe Blue Hour, and other places. Her poems are largely confessional, focusing on sexual trauma, the denial of justice, religious hypocrisy, and their interconnectedness.