by Lizzy Logan


The definition of seven is

six plus one,

fourteen divided by two,

eighteen less than twenty five.


For the little girl I used to babysit,

the definition of seven 

was her lucky number,

the amount of tokens she had left to use at Chuckie Cheese’s,

the number of finger nails that still had bright green polish on them. 


For the old woman who always fed pigeons in Battery Park,

seven was the number of children she had.

The seven hooks she tied her life around.

These seven babies are now grown and gone and have their own lives,

leaving her alone with him for the past seven years. 

Leaving her to suffer in silence.

Leaving him to do what he pleased. 


For the woman who always used to sit across from me on the subway,

seven was the last digit of his phone number.

The seventh date: the first time he hit her;

the seventh month, however, was the last. 

For her, seven was the number of pills she took to escape it all.

And all it took was those seven pills

and seven days

for her to end up seven feet under.

Now the 7 train always feels starkly less full.


For the girl who lived four doors down from me,

the seventh of last month was the day she celebrated

the seventh year her father had not wished her a happy birthday.

It was the seventeenth time she tried to stop caring about him,

the seventy-seventh time she pretended it didn’t affect her,

the seven-hundredth time she had been surprised to not see

the once familiar reminders of his so called affection

trailing down her arms,

and that was just today.


For her,

oh for her,

the definition of seven

reminds her of scars and bumps and bruises

that lined her skin

like a story that was rewritten each day. 

Seven was the age she learned that

wounds can be healed 

and words can be erased, but 

nothing ever really disappears. 


The definition of seven is six plus one 

and age six was the last time she felt clean.

It was the last time she felt like she was whole

and valuable

because it was the last time that she cannot remember

the you’ll never accomplish anythings

and the you’re pathetics

or the I hate yous

or the I love yous.

But add one and that all comes rushing in.


The definition of seven is fourteen divided by two.

Age fourteen was when she realized that this wasn't normal.

Normal people had a place they called home,

people they called family.

Normal people didn't have secrets to hide beneath long-sleeved shirts.

Normal people hadn't lived in the seventh layer of hell for half of their life.


The definition of seven is eighteen less than twenty five.

Age eighteen was when she learned that

domestic abuse is defined by the

twenty-five percent of girls her age that will experience it.

For them,

seven can be the number of times they were beat,

the amount of hospital trips they took,

or the number of lies they spun

until it ended,

or until it truly began. 

Thumbnail image by Evelyn Stetzer.