Papa always warned me about the boys with the teeth like knives.
Stay away from them blood-suckin’ boys, darlin’, he’d say,
you’re so sweet, they’ll gobble you right up.
Papa, papa, I stayed away from the boys like you said,
but they came picking at my bones with their butcherin’ teeth
and sucked the sweet right from my marrow.
Your own brother ate me like a turkey dinner last Thanksgiving
and told me not to yell. Papa, I’ve always tried to be a good girl,
keeping my fists to myself, but all it’s got me
is the space between my legs emptied like an coal mine.
Papa, I’ve never felt so stolen.
A boy looked at me on the bus the other day as we rode into town
and I nearly cried from his wanting.
The girls around me are saying they love the boys,
with their hands like hunger, but I don’t know
how not to flinch from a man anymore.
My own fingers cannot hold me gently,
I haven’t been touched right since second grade.
I come out of showers scalded, I cradle kitchen knives,
I don’t know what to do with this skin.
When I look at boys,
I want to burn their bones down
so one day they can understand
all this empty.