Breathe – Kirsten Smith

Life goes on, was what I was taught

My name is Kirsten and I’m currently a third year student studying English Literature at the University of Edinburgh. I’m currently attempting to get some of my work published to improve and put my name out there to benefit any future career after my studies.


By Kirsten Smith

I sit and cry,

For I am weak.

My mind is a blizzard,

For I cannot sleep.

Left foot, right foot, inhale, exhale,

Left foot, inhale, right foot, exhale 

Remember to breathe, remember to walk, 

Life goes on, was what I was taught.

A shiver permanently elevates, 

Along my anxious spine.

The memories that haunt me,

The flashbacks every time

I engage in intercourse. And in my sleep.

Still so vivid, still so real.

What I would do to change,

The things I would do to feel

Safe, when in close company with another.

The look of pity and anger, enrages on my mother’s face.

Judgemental comments from unsympathetic peers.

I knew deep down I was a disgrace.

I entered his cage, blind to the signs,

For I am gullible and naive.

But this man is my friend, right?

Or so I believed.

What friend strikes fear to the other’s heart?

Their mind, their soul, their body.

What friend strips all dignity from the other’s autonomy?

And all qualities that they embody.

A groping hand weighed down my neck,

Another caressing at my hip.

Conflicting between abuse and love, 

Until I felt my jeans unzip. 

I tell him no, and again and again.

He forces harder, shhh its just practice he said.

I sob to stop, and again and again.

Ignored and blinded, were the tears that I shed.

Further again, after slow painful minutes, 

I inhaled a deep breath and cried out one last plea,

“Please stop, Im in pain,” though I was ignored,

He claimed that he was almost finished, but I could not see

For tears flooded my eyes, a lump chocking my throat.

Alas it was over, I collapsed to the floor.

Legless, I crawled my way up to the shower,

Where I sat drowning in water, numb yet sore.


Another deep breath, and up I stood.

I escaped from the cage and all of its terror,

As I walked aimlessly down the high-street,

In the summer’s day weather.

It appeared that outside of the cage,

The sun shone warm and bright.

No cloud in the sky, no rain pouring down.

Yet in attempting to breathe, my lungs closed in tight.

From here on, I mask a smile, I laugh to cover 

The crackle in my voice, the tears slipping down

My cheek as I hold my smile.

I can not appear weak. I must not frown. 

If only I were a starfish,

So easily mended at the loss of a limb.

Except the reality is, is that I was a child,

Forever cracked, because of him.

This inspiration, I questioned.

Who is she?

This inspiration, I questioned.

I realised is me.

As I continued to breathe.

Kirsten Smith – Edinburgh

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