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What They Didn’t Think Would Happen Already Had - Kelli Russell Agodon

For Christmas, every woman

in my family got a rape whistle,

except me.

My niece walked outside,

closed the front door

to see if we could hear her blow it.

We could.

When I asked where mine was,

my father said, You’ve always been so good

at protecting yourself, we didn’t think you’d need it.

My nephew said, You should be insulted,

they think no one wants to rape you.

Woman after woman unwrapped her gift.

Whistle. Whistle. Whistle.

Outside, my niece walked farther

and farther into street.

We could hear her whistling for blocks.


Kelli Russell Agodon is the cofounder of Two Sylvias Press where she works as an editor and book cover designer. She is also the Co-Director of Poets on the Coast: A Weekend Retreat for Women. Her work as appeared in The Nation, APR, Harvard Review, The Atlantic, O: The Oprah Magazine, and other places. Her fourth collection of poems, Dialogues with Rising Tides was published by Copper Canyon Press in 2021. She lives in the Pacific Northwest. /


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