You were the goddess of your neighborhood,
the streets where you grew up — the queen of asphalt,
destroyer of all silence with your giggling,
savior of drowning bugs in puddles, bringer
of spring, the season riding on your shoulders
sunflowers popping open with your smile.
One summer afternoon, you walked the dog,
your head in paradise, held high and gazing
past the curvature of earth. A truck
slowed down, disturbed your peace – Hey sexy thing
the driver shouted out his rolled-down window.
You made the grave mistake of looking him
square in the eye as though you were a mortal
human being. How old are you? he asked.
You were twelve, but didn’t say a word,
instead, just breathed the heavy scent of fumes,
felt it fill your throat with breathlessness.
You tugged your dog and ran away towards home.
Well fuck you then, the truck sped off and roared.
You tasted fear and swallowed it like stones –
its sour tang a flavor you would learn
to savor, an acquired taste, because
this paradise was never yours to claim.