Elaine Equi, Ripple Effect: New and Selected Poems (Minneapolis, MN: Coffee House Press, 2007).
poem is reproduced on the Griffin Prize Web Site (from a volume on the 2008 International Shortlist).
I’m a bit of a masochist, not much of a singer--if I had a hammer, I’d only hurt myself. My father did not think enough of me to molest me. For years, I lived with the shame of it and did not have the energy to create multiple personalities or develop an eating disorder, which has always seemed to me a pleasant way to while away the day, regulating incoming and outgoing in terms of something concrete as food or excrement.
I admit I used to like to smoke three packs a day wrapping myself in an opalescent carapace of fog and being always as in Victorian novels on the verge of swooning, particularly when climbing stairs. Then for a brief spell, during most of my teenage years, I was in love with shoplifting. It was the sex glue in my adolescent girl-on-girl world. One of those never-enough places where I allowed myself excess--hungry open pockets and purse gobbling perfume, candy, all the imagined gifts an imaginary lover should give. Going out with boys, surprisingly, provided to be an inexplicably simple solution.
But then it is so typical of me to have gone and become addicted not to heroin or gambling, but humiliatingly, to aspirin, craving their cool, white gloved hands at all hours--a headache being just another word for reality. Looking back, I’d like to say I wish I had done more evil than good, but it isn’t true. Forgive me, for my sins are mediocre. My trances ordinary in every way.