Abibatu K.

Touch

As a six year old girl I had big dreams for the future.
By the time my fingers feathered age 18 I’d run faster than the galloping gazelle,
Traverse the great savanna with the strength of a lion,
I would be an apex predator of my own creation.
Everyone would strain their necks just to meet my gaze if they even dared to look up.

My strength unmatched by any man.

I took this confidence into the sixth grade even if I didn’t have the height, yet it would come.
I forged my skin out of platinum and my heart of silver.
Nothing could hurt me-until I got on the bus
Until he sat next to me
Until his hands wandered too close for comfort.
He reminded me that I was not 6 foot 2.
I was a little girl barely out of the womb who was only 4’10.
My hands didn’t have the strength to push him off.
Even as I strained my neck to look up at him and say no with my best growl, my voice still trembled.

He did not stop.

Persistently pushing and invading
I didn’t grow vertical, but he thought I grew nicely in all the right places.
He broke all my amour with his bare hands in seconds that felt like decades.
Maybe if my heart wasn’t drowned in fear this would have never happened.
I could have found the will to stop his advances.

Sometimes, I can feel his hands crawling on my skin installing a paranoia in my mind that kept me from ever retaliating against him.
I fear that he will finish off what was left of me.
A paralyzing fear that held constant even as he went on to touch others the same way he touched me.
The same way he broke my armor.
The same way he violated my body and self worth.
My childish dreams of strength are poisoned by the memory.

I’ll never be six foot two.

Jason Carney