Elizabeth Ashe is a sculptor and poet. She holds an MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University, and an MFA from the Mount Royal School of Art at the Maryland Institute College of Art. Her poetry has recently appeared or is upcoming in Lascaux Press, Lavender Review, Red Ink: An International Journal of Indigenous Literature, Arts and Humanities. Ashe was an Associate Editor for Four River, and is an ongoing guest reader for Sundress Press' Best of the Net Anthology. Ashe is a West Coaster, lez Irish-Sioux and lives in Washington, D.C., where she makes art, works, and teaches.
If only he wasn't my boss' boyfriend,
I would have hurt him.
Taken the knife I kept palm-checking
in my pocket, or the scissors on my desk
and stabbed him in the thigh.
Taken his only unsaid suggestion
unzipped his pants
I would have had to touch him.
He did not listen
that I didn't want a neck rub.
That I was under a grant deadline
but not stressed about it.
He came over anyway
and didn't comprehend everything
I said to dodge him away from me.
Even called his girlfriend, my boss.
And then, he groped my boob.
I pushed him off
Oh, you don't like that?
Can you keep a secret?
What the fuck do you think you're doing?
Get away from me.
But this is an important secret.
I want you, or a threesome.
He keeps talking,
as if the words would rectify his interpretations
of me being nice. As if his words
were invited, were a way to keep me from wanting
even more to cut off his junk.
I suggest he go to the S&M Club
to get past his want to watch
something he isn't invited to participate in.
No, I don't want a disease.
Do you ever go?
He hopes that my girlfriend and I go there.
He still doesn't understand
that nothing about me is an invitation.
That if he came to my home expecting a threesome,
we have knives and swords and know how to use them.
My boss, his girlfriend, returns.
I don't tell her, she doesn't know why he's gone.
I tell her the next day.
After I've yelled at him.
He followed me to another office,
as if it was okay.
As if I was remotely okay with him
being in a room alone with me.
And I yell at him.
Yell my 35 years of pissed at men
and the patriarchy and of being wanted
by those who I do not want.
I am so mad I even scared myself.
What can I do to apologize?
I am sorry.
You can stay the fuck away from me.
I fucking work here.
You can learn that women say no
to men in a half dozen ways
before men understand one of them.
You can understand
that the only reason I didn't stab you
is because I like working here.
I tell my boss.
She yells at him for the next week.
He's done this before,
to a friend of hers.
He buys me a case of wine
I can still barely stand to acknowledge him.
My civility no longer comes with a smile.