When I Visit Emily Dickinson's Grave

by Emmalee Hagarman
it is possible to forget June 
sun, blister blood, sweat stinging 
my ankles, and reach 
across the black gate to touch her
tombstone if I want. Girls 
take selfies beside the lilacs
and little notes above Emily’s 
name, send to moms. Are you 
all good? Forget the old 
man who takes off his 
shirt, covers a grave and punches
it, hard as he can, beside me. 
His grief. The world 
tells me in so many ways 
it was my fault: a woman 
walking across creaky floorboards 
in Amherst’s bookstore says, 
“No one could sneak up 
on you in here, huh?” How 
could you let this happen? 
Anything’s a trigger—blue 
Gatorade at the gas station, the 
kind the nurse made me 
drink after taking Plan B.
A man who does not 
let go of my hand after 
he shakes it. The night 
I was raped, blood 
seeped through my jeans 
as I walked back 
to my room. Are you all 
good? he asked as he zipped 
up his pants and he meant it, 
if I remember right. If 
I stand under cold water 
long enough for my blue 
fingers to forget they
held his minutes before he 
held me down on the bed. 
When a man tells me Life 
doesn’t give you trigger 
warnings, I bite my cheek hard 
enough to draw blood
trying not to ask, what happens
if I forget? What happens 
at night, when I hear the door 
knob of my hotel room jiggle,   
the thud of a body trying 
to get inside? When I throw
open the door, the drunk 
girl who thinks this is her 
room jumps when she sees 
the look on my face.