(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
and the battle of Gettysburg
with pine cones and juniper berries,
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.