Honorable Mention for High School Poetry
I’m sorry to say but your son is calloused menace,
A blond hair—blue eye’d devil in the flesh.
A boy who—couldn’t keep himself compressed,
A man who didn't want his life to be ruined.
And I was,
A little brown girl—a peach bottom,
Sprouting from the ground in a preteened mess like everyone was at one point.
But unlike everyone, I wasn't allowed to sprout on my own,
I was ten, if you can remember,
A baby, a little seedling, a newly planted tomato seed.
I didn't know my left from my right—how to tie my shoes—how to use the stove—
I didn’t know how to say no to my older cousin.
Do you know what really happened? Or what Nathan lied about.
Nathan came to my cabin, it was mid June.
The sun was just beginning to peak,
leaving sunburned kisses on the back of my neck and shoulders.
Nathan told my dad, “we’ll only be gone for a little.”
And with that malice tone, led me into the woods,
A long walking stick between his fingers,
A sinister smile playing on his pale face.
I remember the waterfall he showed me—the orange rocks—new grown ferns.
I remember the sway of the trees in the summer breeze,
The distant scent of pollen, birds singing in unison, the sun’s rays patterned on the forest floor.
We stopped at a cross in the creek.
He told me we were playing a game and to keep my eyes closed, not to open them or else.
Would you believe that I kept them shut the entire time?
Would you believe that I didn’t cry when he hurt me.
I thought it was okay, even though a small—tiny—itty bitty voice told me it wasn’t.
I told my sister what happened to me when I was fourteen.
A hormonal teenage mess; I couldn’t hold it in anymore.
My emotions were everywhere and that nagging—constant thought brought me down.
She said it was okay, said everything would be fine
and comforted me when I cried.
That was the first and last time I cried in front of someone for a very long time.
My sister told my mother—and she told my father—and he told the police.
The police didn’t believe me.
They said I was too young to remember,
said Nathan was too old to be tried now.
They said, “Why ruin his life?”
Even though he ruined mine.
It ate at me, what he did. How dirty and vile I felt.
No amount of washing, cleansing of my skin and mind,
Could ease the sense of filth residing in my soul.
Years passed, people stopped caring.
Told me it was done and over with,
told me, “It wasn’t rape.”
Missy, it hurts when nobody listens,
When you reach a hand out,
only to be shunned and scolded.
I wish I could talk to you,
have a heart to heart,
Tell you why I still cry—why I hate Christmas—why I hate myself sometimes.
Why I just can’t let it go.
Sometimes—a lot of times—
I wonder why I said something.
I remember what my dad said,
The first time he heard the story,
His face covered in a thick smear of tears.
“I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you.”
I said something to protect myself,
To stop the pain in my chest from spreading, the hurt and worry
in my veins from burning.
You’re still my favorite aunt,
I still love seeing you even
if you spit vulgar words in my direction.
I still see the trees swaying,
the sun blazing and
think of how beautiful life can be.
Even if a twitch of pain—sadness—anger
stabs me in the throat sometimes.
I just have to remember,
I can find a way to heal—
knowing I said something.