YOU'RE SICK gets stuck

In less than a year I’ll be able to drive
til then I’m at the mercy of Mom

Shiny bags of new clothes perched
on my bench in the empty parking lot
I’m listless but fearless. The day is bright
and this is my Valley, my home and
I’m safe and as happy as fifteen can be.

I’m vaguely aware that there’s
someone else near.
It’s a boy a bit younger than me
He swings from a bike rack next to my bench
I smile just like I was taught.


(Good girls must smile, be sweet to the boys
be nice to the coach
to the teacher
the priest
Men deserve your respect and your smile

for nothing they did, but because they are men
we’re taught from the day we are born
)

My breast is suddenly squeezed hot and shocked
and that boy, he is running awa
y with it now

“YOU’RE SICK!”
are the words that instinctively formed
I was otherwise too stunned to move.

My words would haunt him the rest of his life
whenever he had the unquenchable urge

to grab at a breast — he would stop

he would struggle, and hurt, then
go home and beat off
because that first breast he grabbed had a voic
e

Except that those words
full of power and truth

stuck in my throat
as he ran

The loud silent lump
turned from anger to pain
and stayed there
as he disappeared.

I felt it for years
as it strained to break free

but always the good girl,
I swallowed it.

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