Summer Job

There is nothing happier
than mindlessness. Nothing
happier than phone calls,
than note taking, than this
deliberate absence of the self.
All day, traumas invite
themselves into the casket
of a computer. This is not where
my mental illness goes to die.
Just where it demands to be
put away for a while. Think
of every childhood bully you’ve
ever gone to school with–
their dolls, their punching bags,
their overactive imaginations.
Outside of work, everything
contains within it the threat
of a black eye. I do not touch
the souvenirs of my pre-puberty
self. They are reserved for
the strangers in my life who
can ogle them without any
awareness of how every
man in my life has become
a voyeur. It has been this way
since the first bra. I was nine
and grown up in ways no
nine-year-old should ever
have to think about.
There were cat calls. There was
gossip. There was the one health
teacher who made a joke about
the size of my tits. I wanted
to tell the world that I am not
a spectacle. That unlike the other
women in my family, I did not
exist to be a walking spectacle.
Children are not smart enough
to navigate the language of no.
For years on end, every job offer
turned inwards to booze and phone sex
and the virtual laps of a married man.
My home computer no longer remembers
how old his daughter was. It does not
matter. One day, the mind-altering
depression will coax her into something
unthinkable. If she is lucky, there
will be the all the comforts of
capitalism to come home to.
A woman’s self-hatred knows no end.

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