Creative Writing

Scarlet Letter

by Hannah Yale

Where is his Scarlet Letter?

His chest should be painted red.

Why is it not dripping with Scarlet Shame?

The streets on which he walks

should be covered in the blood

which glistens on his hands.

Why must I bear My Letter alone?

My chest was already tainted by your touch;

why must it be trodden by their Scarlet Stares?

The streets on which I walk

are filled with hateful shouts and jealousy 

of what I have become.

Shouldn’t tragedy beget tragedy?

I used to think that was the only option for me,

drowning in tears and guilt

for what he had done,

for what I had let him get away with.

There was no escape from his cold, bitter touch.

Sometimes I still fall into the chasm

of sheer overwhelmed panic,

but I have since learned how to breathe,

and to soak in my surroundings,

and tell myself that he is gone.

He is no longer in my shirt in the dark,

his hand no longer on my mouth,

his eyes no longer black and animal.

He is gone,

but his imprint is not.

No matter how many pills I take,

or how many rallies I attend,

I will always have this burning Letter on my chest,

a searing sensation of

how could this happen?

how could I have fallen so carelessly into his grasp?

how could the signs have gone unnoticed?

how was he able to so easily disguise his malice?

how did he get away with it, Letter-free?

There is no solace to be taken

in the possibility that he will confess his sins.

He is no Reverend; he feels no guilt.

There is no hidden Letter on his chest,

whether carved in or gnawed out,

it just isn’t there.

So I am alone on my scaffold, alone without question.

The crowd doesn’t want to know who else was involved:

it’s just me,

and the words that buzz around about PMS and oversensitivity,

the sex I regretted, or my lack of human decency.

I must be punished! for my crimes against masculinity.

Cut off your hair! Be modest in your dress!

Wipe that smile off your face or you’ll be mistaken for a temptress!

Where is his Scarlet Letter?

Where is his Shame? His Despair? His talking-to?

He holds no obligations,

no therapy to pay for, no autonomy to fight for.

He floats freely, Chilling every room he enters,

poisoning people without consequence.

Where is his Scarlet Letter?

The most guilty of the three, and yet never suffers publicly?

I know it will consume him eventually,

but until then he gets away, Letter-free?

It was different then; God was your judge.

But now nothing is true unless it’s being heard.

The people need to see if they are going to believe,

and as of right now, they don’t believe me.

They see my Scarlet Letter for what it is not:

“A” for “Attention Whore,”

“A” for “Asking For It,”

“A” for “Anti-Men,”

but they do not see his.

His sin goes unnoticed,

because they do not make him wear it.

“A” for “Abuser,”

“A” for “Assailant,”

“A” for “Asshole.”

It’s all much too harsh for a developing young man.

Weren’t his actions harsh on me?


But I suppose that doesn’t’ matter to the townsfolk

who decide who wears an “A” on their chest and who does not.

Today I wear that Scarlet Letter on my breast.

I have not worn it for nearly as long as our protagonist did,

but the meaning of my own has already shifted,

not because society now views me differently

but because I now view myself differently.

It has already begun to sparkle.

Escaping a labyrinth of misery has just as much to do with

forgiving others

as it does with

forgiving yourself.

There will always be pain.

But I will straighten my shoulders, and puff out my chest.

This is my Rebellion, to show off my Letter as a sign of Scarlet Strength

that he will never have.

“A” for “Able,”

“A” for “Ardent,”

“A” for “Adaptable,”

“A” for “Admirable,”

“A” for “Affectionate,”

“A” for “Ambitious,”

“A” for “Authentic,”

“A” for “Aware.”

This is my Scarlet Letter.

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