Poem: What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Rape

What We Don’t Talk About When We Talk About Rape

by Roseanne Giannini Quinn


~for Catalina Torres

It’s never a long conversation.

It usually starts the same.

It’s in my office

after the class.


Her head is bowed.

Her arms are covered


with tears.


No, it wasn’t a stranger.

No, I wasn’t drunk.

No, I didn’t know the roommates

Posted a reenactment.

Until they keyed my car.


So, let’s talk about it:

No, there isn’t a campus women’s center.

No, there isn’t a hotline.

No, there isn’t a zero tolerance policy.


Lots of horrific no.

Decades, in fact.


Where’s the teaching,

in that?


Go ahead, continue:


A lot of bleeding after.

down the chalkboard


into my mother’s house.


We sit here quietly together.

Unknown until



A system meant to educate

Perpetrators mirrored.


Oh, and your friend, too?

She’s not on campus anymore?

Say that again?


No. She is no longer….


I think I just can’t say it all, over, again:

I was not. But,

She was —


Shot in the face

After she told.


Roseanne Giannini Quinn teaches at De Anza College.  Her essay on being a contingent faculty member, “Fragmented Instruction and Personal Discourse,” was published in Inside English in the December 1988 issue. Her most recent publication, on Lady Gaga and gendered ethnic identity, can be found in the book, What is Italian America?


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s