– Cathy Linh Che –


It was hot, covers thrown off. The girl slept on the top bunk 
with a stuffed raccoon, her brother sprawled on the lower 
bunk, fast asleep. In the room, a wood panel TV, white plastic 
couch, pale pink carpet turned black in the dark. She was lying 
on her back when he entered the room, a shadow, a hand undoing  
the top snap of her denim shorts, she turned away toward the wall,  
pressed the metal back in, it made a dull pop, her body  
an S on the bed, head curved forward, legs tucked under, deep red  
arrows were stitched onto her pockets, he reached over, unsnapped  
the waist again, pulled her zipper down, tooth by tooth, she shut  
her eyes, in her mind, a tug of war, the red flag moving slowly  
to his side, he lifted her up, she pretended to sleep, her arms  
hung limp, calves dangled over, he carried her into the next room. 



[In the late 14th century] 

In the late 14th century, the word rape meant to abduct or
take by force. I think of an eagle seizing a fish with its talons.
The Latin rapere was used for sexual violation but only very
rarely. My mother says, hãm or hi, which means to rape or
to injure in Vietnamese. When my mother was three, my
grandmother snatched her up and  yelled, “The French are
coming!” All the women of the village started to run.