Mission Statement

“Perpetrators have different personae,
It’s recognised by law,”
I tell the taxi driver with
folded in two on the seat.
Her face is obscured with his crossword guesses.
He already has some pretty strong ideas about her,
and what she’s been wearing.
I’ve been taken in by the tall, clean man
dropping off a letter. He offers me a mint.
From the website printed on his card I learn
he likes skiing and Rioja.
His wife tells me other things he likes,
they stay with me longer.

“Women have different reasons for going back,
valid reasons.”
I tell a voice calling,
counting up paperwork to be done.
Later I watch the day’s news,
the words I half-expect don’t come, still
my stomach aches as I file her into the archives,
letting her face dissolve.

“It’s never the victim’s fault,” I tell the little girl,
curled up like a conch.
Shells may be what get left behind, but
they can build a wall, drive away evil, hold water,
start a battle, mark a grave, make art.
Vishnu carries one to blow the music of life.

“It’s all about power and control,”
I tell my friends over drinks.
Their minds are elsewhere,
the night is balmy and we can go anywhere.
Behind my desk I keep him on hold indefinitely.
Leave him panting and gnashing as I take another call,
from a woman he would dare disrespect.
I print off a picture of his face knotted with anger,
punching my door.
Line it up perfectly with internal extension numbers,
and a holiday snap of my mum.
Under my desk I have a smooth, round panic button.
I press it as I smile and
kick my sockless feet.

Rachel Simons is a Welsh writer and artist. She grew up near the sea but now uses Roath Park Lake to get her fix of water-watching. By day, she works in the voluntary sector with people who are homeless or vulnerably housed.

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