Sandra Stringer, Carrboro

“The unfortunate thing about my poem is that it is probably the most truthful piece of writing I’ve ever done,” says Sandra Stringer. “The Pillaging of Me, Age 6” is based on Stringer’s experience of being sexually assaulted by a neighbor when she was 6-years-old. It was written this January, a few days after she received a phone call from her sister informing her that their father had discovered “the big secret” that Stringer had been keeping from him all these years. “Immediately I felt like I should be very upset, but I was surprised to find that, just knowing that he knows was like a million pound weight came off my shoulders,” she says. “I was able to really write about the experience with a kind of freedom and fearlessness that I hadn’t felt before.”

A resident of Carrboro, Stringer works as the office manager at Franklin Street Realty. She has a B.A. and M.A.T. in English from the University of South Carolina. After a six-year-long absence from the classroom, she plans to return to teaching high school English in the fall.

Stringer is currently working on a novel “with no discernable plot but many, many characters.” Her writings include a guide to Columbia, S.C., which is part of the South Caroliniana Library Collection at the University of South Carolina. She has also produced a ‘zine titled Attagirl, which can be found in the collection of the Sallie Bingham Center for Women’s History and Culture at Duke University.

“This spare poem deals with a terrifying subject in a devastatingly calm voice,” says contest judge Jane Mead. “The steady pacing, the understatement, the simple yet resonant images and unsentimental diction result in a powerful and complex utterance.”

The Pillaging of Me, Age 6

Here is what I can call
From memory:

Everything seemed white–
The table
The ice cream
The bed
The ceiling
His hair
The floor
The door
The sky

And there was
Many days later
A black shawl on the ground
Dragged there by the dog
Who found it somewhere
or other

I picked it up
And wrapped it around me
And rocked on my heels

I was already invisible
You see