I am 5,
and a boy in my kindergarten class
pulls his pants down in front of me
in the shared classroom toilet.
“You should lick it,” he says,
shaking himself in front of me.
“That’s what girls are for.”
I am 10,
away from home for a weekend, visiting,
when an older boy says we should play pretend,
“You are the girl,
and I am the landlord,
and you are late with rent,
so this is what you have to do.”
I am pushed into the cold leather couch,
my knees on the painted cement of the basement floor,
and he kneels behind me.
He rubs himself against the seat of my corduroys,
and I think to myself
that there must be something hard
in his pocket,
and I wonder if he can feel it, too,
the way it grinds into me.
I am 12,
and at an end of summer party at the lake,
a counselor puts me up on his shoulders for a game of chicken,
and pulls me forward, rocking his head side to side,
and hooking his thumbs under the thighs seam of my suit.
Later, he sneaks up behind me to say,
“I can still smell how sweet you are.”
I am 14,
and during a summer game of sardines,
a boy pins me down in a dark, dusty attic,
behind a door he locked shut,
and puts his hand between my legs.
“I know what this is for.
I know what you want to do with it.”
I am 15,
and an older coworker follows me home.
He smells like cheap beer and old sweat
as he tells me how he looks inside my windows at night,
as he tells me “I know how much you want me,”
as he pushes me back against my door,
and puts his tongue in my mouth.
I am 16,
and I am pushed into a filing cabinet,
an older boy’s fingers digging into the seat of my jeans,
the rough knit of my sweater.
He looks angry
and not angry
that I am trying to get to class.
“If you don’t stop coming through here,
I’ll hold you down in the practice room.
No one will be able to hear what I do to you.”
I am 17,
and I am in a dark stairwell,
and a boy I met two days ago has both my wrists in one hand
and his other hand between my legs,
and he is hissing in my ear that he can tell I am wet,
and so I must be enjoying it.
When he realizes it is blood,
he smears it on my new dress
and pushes me away, saying
I am 18,
and I feel the sharp tear; the sting I wondered about.
An older boy says
to be slow,
to be careful,
as though he is not the one holding me still,
as though he is not the one pushing inside me,
and when it is done,
he is angry.
“You ruined my sheets,
you dirty bitch.”
I am 18,
and I am on my back
on another painted basement floor.
There are four of them.
They take turns, and order pizza, after.
When I leave, they tell me they had a great time,
and ask “Can you come back again tomorrow?”
I am 19,
and as I lean to give directions to a lost tourist,
I am nearly pulled into his car.
When I get home, my boyfriend says,
“What did you expect, when you’re dressed like that?”
I am 24,
and a man I and a friend sometimes work for
drops by my apartment.
He talks his way inside my door,
inside my bedroom,
inside my clothes.
He ties me to my bed.
When he is done,
it is made plain to me
that if I tell his wife,
“She’s just going to get mad
at you, and you and your friend may lose her job.
I wouldn’t want that to happen to either of you.”
I am 43,
and I have never
said half of these things aloud.
I am 43,
and right now,
some other girl is 5.