Rigorous
Volume Five, Issue 1



Laundromat

Cee Rivers


5 Summers. Several Holidays. One cousin. Aunt’s House. Guest Room. One Bed.

Most nights she tires herself out
Most nights I stare at the ceiling
Most nights I leave myself behind
Most nights I can’t feel it

Most nights I am in space
But tonight I am just somewhere else
where?
I don’t know

She gets tired
I come back down
into the body that she taught me is not my own

I call for my aunt or at least I think I do
no one comes

“I told you so”

she kisses the bruise
all blood rushed and snack sized
with acid lips and tells me
How fun our game is
like a mother trying to force a child to eat their vegetables

“This, is good for you”

I sleep in my own blood
She yells at me in the morning
And sneaks down the stairs with my clothes and my sheets to the washing machine

‘You should know better by now’

I can’t leave the room with different clothes
So we wait

Her hands find my skin in the day light for the first time
while the spin cycle rolls
and for the first time
I don’t know where to go
So I remain present

She goes to get my pajamas all plush and soft like me
sneaking past the kitchen, the cake, and the candles
It is my twelfth birthday
her 15th is next week

She brings me my clothes
I put them on
and feel wet




5 minutes. One man. My job. One wall.

a hand is around my neck
mentally I am somewhere off on a crater
physically I am at his will
spiritually I can feel the scar tissue of my mind tearing

“At least you’ll sleep good tonight. I did you a favor”

I bleed into my work pants
my manager thinks it’s that time of the month
I try to clean them in the bathroom
the stain won’t come out
I wait for my Uber in the cold and hope I don’t get Pneumonia

I don’t sleep




2 nights. Same Girl. My Room. One Bed.

“Your cousin is here”
“She’s staying for the weekend”

mother knows
she pretends she doesn’t
When I get home from school
She is laying in my bed
Bigger than before. Legal now.
Dripping unearned cockiness all over my pillows

I pass out
and wake up naked
no blood yet
It’s not as fun when I’m sleeping
She doesn’t have to tell me

I wash my clothes myself




New girl. Her room. One bed.

I am 17 in a bed
that isn’t mine
with a girl that is
staring at the ceiling

“Where are you right now?”

I wish I could be present
but I think I’m still waiting for my clothes to dry
so we wait
and wait
and wait



Cee Rivers: “I am a black enby first-year creative writer at The University Of The Arts who prides myself in creating stories not only rooted in but written for my communities. This poem moves through several snapshots of moments within my life from 12 to 18 and the lasting impact of sexual trauma.”




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