I prefer to characterize rape
simply as a form of torture.
-Helen Benedict


You hide a secret behind dimples.
He wants to touch
the inner workings of your mouth
with steel. Poke

around with hooks.
Into the enamel.
Into the sweet spot —
the one that makes you
twitch — in the back of your mouth.

You grind your teeth.
Something holds you in its sick arms
and keeps you up at night. He knows.
The way ridges get worn down.

The gas lulls you into sleep
as it laps, like water, against
your ribs. The bright light relaxing itself
against eyelids, your tongue, the little bib
draped over your chest to catch what spills.

Suddenly, you hear the palm trees rustle.
Their bark spinning up to the big leaves.
Your mouth is full of sand. A little man
creeps in to your dream.

And then it’s gone. The molar
pulled out with the stench of rotted weeds.
Your tongue digs in to explore.