I never saw a man
Except for once on a hospital bed
The light was gray and he asked me to touch him.
I was four.
That was the year mom took me into town
For new shoes and hot chocolate
She gave a dollar to the man with the cup
but wouldn't let me look at him.
Dad used to smile and swing me around
And called me his little girl.
And there was always paper to color with.
When I was eleven the men came.
They gave daddy white pills
And he didn't call me his little girl anymore.
Mom took me into town
And pinched her face at the price of training bra's.
I ground my toe into the dirt and pretended I was 30
When men used to look at me.
By the time I was seventeen I was drifting away.
Familiar with the touch of wanting hands.
Mom never smiled
And I was never home.
Dad looked at me like I was a Satan
with a bible clutched in his hand.
And I wanted to apologize
for what, I'm not sure.
It just seemed like the right thing to do
And these people who were strangers now
Raised me to be like that.
The year would go by
And they would see me holding hands
With several boys.
But never a man.
Until the year I turned nineteen.
By then the leafs were melted off the sycamore
And nobody used the swing out back anymore.
Because it just wasn't the thing to do.
Mom would scrape together her last bit of flour
And smile over coffee.
And I thanked her for that
With a $20 in her palm
Because I knew the price of flour these days.
Dad was steve now.
And we barely talked
Not that I minded.
Words were never spoken
And the house was often silent
I would lie awake
Staring at the night light
In a room of an unfamiliar town
Feeling more at home.
Why that was,
But not really feeling in the dark
For an answer.