She told me that when she woke, she was in the dark,
in a strange room, fully clothed, apart from her knickers,
which she never saw again, apart from her top and bra,
pushed up round her throat. Imagine waking into silence,
to strange shapes in the dark, not knowing if you’re alone.
Her shoes still on her feet. Her feet still in her shoes
and something deep inside is aching, and nothing to do
except stumble from that bed and run away,
nothing to do but pass down the hallway like a ghost.
Like a ghost, disturbing nothing, holding her breath
until she was out in the crispness of a November morning,
walking along a faithful avenue of silent trees
and falling fallen leaves. She told me she remembered
standing at a bar and a hand in the small of her back
which felt like fire. The world slowly turning and her
at the centre, no ghost yet, but getting smaller.
And she remembers a hand loosening a tie
but not what happened after. Nothing about a face.
Her body no longer hers. And somewhere is the man
who did this to her. And somewhere is the man
who must have put her in that bed and walked
that same avenue of trees, waiting for her to leave.
We learnt this when we were young, that these things
can happen, that it’s possible to walk into a bar
one evening and wake up in a stranger’s place
with someone’s semen sticky between your legs
and your throat cannot remember saying no
but your heart cannot remember saying yes.
Kim Moore won the 2017 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize for her debut collection The Art of Falling (Seren).
This article appears in the 21 Mar 2018 issue of the New Statesman, Easter special