Time | A Poem About Healing


Samantha Nagel

from: Empowered

TW: sexual assault, rape, body image

I can count on my hands how many years it’s been since my rape.







This year it will be


Once I heard that every seven years,

The body is made up of new cells,

The body is an entirely new body.

Does that mean this year,

I will have a body that was never touched by my rapist?

Does that mean that this year,

I get to wear new skin?

This year my organs don’t reek of rape.

It’s like getting a whole new wardrobe,

One that you never asked for,

But it feels like a gift when you open your closet.

When this year’s anniversary comes,

I will caress my arms with my new fingerprints,

I will kiss my knees with my rejuvenated lips.

Welcome, I will whisper to my reflection,

Welcome to the Earth, my beautiful new body.

When it comes,

I don’t feel happy.

How do I describe disappointment?

It isn’t the body I was raped in,

It’s bigger,

It’s soft,

It’s ugly.

How do I describe disgust?

My body now wears a name tag that my doctor comments on,

That my mother snidely remarks on,

That my friends avoid commenting on.

My body now wears a name tag that says

I have gained fifty pounds.

I used to look in the mirror and see a kicked puppy,

An abused stray.

I used to look in the mirror and see skin and bones

With long blonde hair.

I used to see a girl in the mirror,

One that was sexy in the way that all young girls are:


Now I see the round cheeks of a woman,

The curve of a midsection,

The bloom of strong thighs.

How do I describe fat?

My new cells are not what I imagined,

It took me months to rewrite my name tag.

I have gained fifty pounds

Has now turned in to

I have lost abusive relationships,

I have lost fear and shame,

I have lost the indentation in my hands that

My keys leave when I clutch them like a dagger in the shadows of the parking lot.

I have gained fifty pounds

Has now turned in to

I have gained back pleasure in my taste buds,

I have gained beautiful relationships,

I have gained a smile that reaches the iris of my eyes

Instead of barely showing my teeth.

My name tag no longer reads a victim,

And it no longer reads a defender either.

To be quite honest with you,

I don’t know what it reads.

The last time I saw my name tag, I threw it in a fire pit

And watched it burn,

The flames reminded me to embrace my new cells.

How do I describe self acceptance?

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