& what I meant when I asked about time travel:  

What would you change—if you could go back,      
                                                to that moment—the one in which your voice
                                                                                                          first felt its most insignificant?

I mean this to say:
what if it mattered to me,
                     how you felt in that moment— so much so
                     that I would give my life to let you know?

I mean this to say: my sons will not put their hands on people
who have not asked for their hands—like in a community pool
when a girl is fourteen and had not seen this boy since 6th grade;
nor will my sons laugh at your daughter as she cries
on the bench outside the pool because
no one had ever touched her there before
or because it didn’t stop when she said no, or no again;
because it didn’t stop until she climbed out of the pool running
and because even after she did, not a single adult set their drink down.

Surely, had some words been spoken, this girl would feel less concern years later,
when grabbing the hand of her partner at a wedding where they are the only
two women in love.

Years later their faces still linger
in the pool as you run,
as people watch you run,
as no one stops you from running,
& years later when you see his name pop up online and there’s a photo of him
with kids and they’re his kids, you hope he teaches them both consent.

Photo by Immo Wegmann on Unsplash

Ace Howlen

Ace Howlen is a 31 year old Richmond, Va native who currently teaches high school English in Yorktown, Va. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from the University of Tennessee in Knoxville, and her BA in English from Virginia Commonwealth University. Formerly published as Alexandra and Ace Englehart (prior to getting married!), her poems have most recently been featured in The Appalachian Review, the Southern Florida Poetry Journal, the Timberline Review, and Unlimited Literature. She has a healthy obsession with birds, vintage books, and dilapidated old buildings. She spends her free time taking pictures, feeding the neighborhood ducks and squirrels, and watching bad horror movies with her wife, Holly.