ordinary summer

(This was written after I spent several hours on Sunday following the #yesallwomen twitter feed, surprised at my own reactions.  Even though I have always been surrounded by exceptional men, good men who never harmed me and always protected, the fear, the experiences expressed by the women in the thread were all familiar to me, their choices and the way they protect themselves daily all a part of my own every day actions.  As I read, the collective statements finally sunk in:  no, not all men, but yes, all women.  And we so rarely tell any of our ordinary stories out loud.) 

 

My uncle said she was one of those girls,

the way she wore her clothes

with her woman's breasts indecent

on a girl her age.

Then he scowled and crushed his cigarette under his boot

and she and I went off to whisper

in the backyard and giggle

but things were never the same

and sometimes I felt a scowl creep across my own face.

 

That same June the neighbor boys and I

played kickball,

and the battle of Gettysburg

with pine cones and juniper berries,

and afterwards

they would hold my wrists and yank down my shirt

so they could see my child-chest with its tiny roses blooming,

a game so funny they played it all summer,

while I became quite practiced

at avoiding dark corners

and throwing pine cones one-handed

my other arm held tightly

across my now indecent breasts.