(memory is the mother of muses)

1

In first grade,
three boys chased me
home from school.

I ran downhill,
tripped on uneven sidewalks,
scraped my knee.

The briefcase flapped
against my hip, fearful angles,
notebooks, worksheets shifting.

The boys still coming after me,
I reached my street corner, stopped.
The briefcase handle snapped.

A broken wing dangled from my arm.
The lock broke. Notebooks tumbled out.
They laughed and kicked my homework.

I begged them, stop.
They called me pussy,
pushed me to the cracked sidewalk.

Growing bored with evil,
they peeled away, boasting,
descending the hill.

Maroon blood stained my knee,
the broken handle oily in my hand.
I limped to my house, glad Mom was near.

No car in the driveway,
garage empty,
back door locked.

2

I sat on the stoop, dizzy,
dabbing my wound
with the Weekly Reader.

Long minutes.
Suburban years had not
prepared me for this.

I did not know
she was running
late from the hairdresser.

The Weekly Reader had a story
about an abandoned dog
rescued by fire fighters.

Then Mom pulled into the driveway.
She could see the dry tears.
Ashamed, I lied about the boys,

told her I fell and scraped my knee.
Inside, she leaned over,
dabbed antiseptic on it.

It stings. I want to cry again.
Her hair looked different,
darker, shorter.

 

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