by Amanda Gomez
for Rita Moreno
West Side Story, 1961
In the drugstore taunting scene, before Anita lies 
about Maria’s death - we forget Rita’s painted face: 
forget, in this movie, Puerto Ricans are only 
dark-skinned – we’re silent – run, we think –
hoping she’ll escape, as the boys, catlike, claw 
her skirt – grind her back against cement, leaping 
around her legs as fast as light bulbs burn out. 
That they will rape her is understood –
not just because she’s had sex, or is thought to be oversexed –
but that some women were built as fodder for violence, 
their innocence taken hostage. Later, 
Rita would admit how the past came knocking 
at her throat, how it bruised her soul. How, she too, 
was almost raped. I was filled with every terrible rage
she says, when I said the line, “Don’t you dare touch me”
her jaw a sharp arrangement of bone, as if to say, 
this is the hurt we sew inside our ribs, 
cutworked, patterned: a trauma set in place.