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 by my side
perched on a bench in the empty parking lot
tired but fearless: the day is bright
and this is my Valley, my home:
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 nice to the boys,
be nice to the man
to the teacher
the priest
these men deserve your respect and your smile
we’re taught from the day we are born.

My breast is suddenly hot and shocked
and that boy, he is running away

with my breast, it feels, still in his hand

are the words that instinctively formed
I was otherwise too stunned to move.

Those words would haunt him the rest of his life
whenever he had the unquenchable urge to grab at a breast

he would struggle, and stop, and go home and beat off
because that first breast he grabbed had a voice

Except that those words
full of power and truth
stuck in my throat and stayed there.

I felt them for years
as they strained to break free
but always the good girl,

I swallowed them.

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