White Outlines

Words by Jaime (she/her), 22 QLD  

 

Content Warning

 

The following poetry and artwork may contain themes that might be difficult to read or triggering to some readers. Readers in need can seek support from the following services 1800RESPECT (1800 737 732) or Lifeline (13 11 14) – visit our Creating a Safe Space page to see a full list of support services.

A girl is found,
Dead in a park
In the northern suburbs.
Her shoes are brand new,
And the dew soaks
Through her running jacket.
She is twenty-four.

I read this headline
In the early morning
When the fog is still
Drawing its curtains.
She is only twenty-four,
And here I stand on the ledge
Of my twenties,
Thanking God I don’t like to run
Alone in the evenings.

A cartoon crime scene
White outline brands
Itself like a halo
Around her body in my mind.
I think of how my body could
Perfectly fit within its white glow,
How my arms would fall just so.

Afterall, I fit the demographic –
A twenty something young female.

A young woman is killed
By her partner when he
Ran her over after she tried to leave him.
She is twenty-seven.
Now, when I drive through her street,
I see her white outline
Kissing the bitumen,
And I press my brakes.

I walk around this world and see
The white outlines of
Young women,
Who were killed or murdered –
A graveyard.

I look for the gaps between
The white outlines,
See the space where my own
outline could lay in
the puzzle piece landscape of
Young women,
All killed too soon.

I see my face in
Their photographs
That paint the digital
walls of the Daily Mail,
And wonder what image
My mother would use for me
If I disappeared off the edge,
If I was forced into the ground,
A foot on the back of my head
And made to melt into a white outline
Like sea foam.
I wonder what other young girl
Would look at my photograph
And see her own eyes looking back.

A young schoolteacher
Is found drowned in the school’s
Pool when a boy she rejected
Hit her over the head and threw
Her body into the water.
Another white outline.
She is twenty-five.

I count the age difference between
Her and I,
And my heart aches a million
Different ways when that difference
Fits on one hand.

These are my women;
The ones I would look for
In rooms of men,
In crowded trains,
At networking events.

These are my women;
The ones I would search
For if I needed reprieve
From that one creep on the street
Who keeps yelling at me.

These are my women;
And they’re disintegrating
Into ghosts.

I’m walking to the train,
Police sirens are cracking open the day
And their red and blue lights are
Painting the train tracks.
A young women is found raped and killed,
Rumoured to be nineteen.
I watch the drama unfold,
The blocking of the streets,
The police cars and hoards of people.

On the other side of it,
There’s another twenty something year old girl.

We lock eyes, and I know
She sees it too,
The white outlines.
And I know she’s thinking it too,
I know she’ll go home and consume the news articles,
And feel the anger ravage her body,
As she, and I, and every other female,
Ask ourselves,
How many have to die
Before someone
Washes the world clean of the
white outlines?

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