Thursday, October 23, 2014


"You are fine"
"You are a big girl"
"You can walk to school by yourself"
"Quit crying"

"The world is full of people who
will hurt you. Don't talk to strangers."
"Go outside and play"
"Do not play with the junk pile
in the back yard"

Do this
Don't do this
Confusing messages, erratic rules
She's only five. What to do?

Each morning
she fearfully creeps
down her block and
along the cold highway
crossing the railway tracks
cautiously studying houses
as her trek takes her past them
bug-eyed stares at others
walking near her
who don't even notice her

Arriving at last at school
relieved to be alive and unmolested
only to be ridiculed and mocked
for her poor clothing and old shoes
and outspoken observations and
good grades and 'teacher's pet'

Each afternoon
skipping home on the reverse path
less fearful yet still vigilantly watching
for the bad people she's been warned about,
studying the sign for potato chips that
spans the highway she crosses

The tiny brick house looms before her eyes
haven and hell
she carefully hangs up her coat and
gives the papers to mom
then wheels her precious two wheeler
around the side of the building to
ride up and down the thirty short feet
of freedom's sidewalk bordering
the front of her home
while the dog next door barks itself
inside out watching her.

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