Journal » Trout 14 » Thirteen Again [Tammie Keiko Oka]
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Thirteen Again

Tammie Keiko Oka

Fossilized like petals torn
from mother's birthday bouquet,
carefully dried in the dictionary
I open the wooden doors, pages
of my yearbook, and I see his face
his name, and I am thirteen all over again.

I walk to the Ruger bus stop
on my way to grandma's house,
and he is walking beside me,
in front of me, all around me.
I sit on the concrete bench,
pray that he doesn't punch me
pray that the bus is near.

Hey fatso. Hey Shamu.
You must really like Nik,

and I am slow to respond,
because I don't want him to leave
bruises on my skin, don't
want grandma to worry,
rush to school to rescue me
in her Chrysler Plymouth van.

I wait for the bus
try to play along, because
we are alone, and I
fear him when his friends
aren't around. My intestines
latch in knots, and he
suddenly tugs my backpack
and drags me past bushes.
I press his arms into
thorns and leaves, but I am
running in place, and no
one's around and no one answers
my screams. He opens the
gate to his apartment building
pushes me behind the bushes
and I kick him. He pulls me
tighter, closer.

His warm breath smells like cigarettes
and his eyes go black. He stares
down at me like a man
who has gone without
food and water for days.
I know the look and cannot,
will not escape.

He unwraps me like a birthday present
under each layer of clothing—
my button-down blouse, tank top,
and white bra. I am numb. He leaves
when he has taken what he came for,
laughs as he slowly walks away.
I tug my clothes back in place. Cry,
silent for years.

I close the yearbook and gather
the dried petals, the ones I planned
to use for potpourri, stand on my lanai
nine stories above the ground
release the petals from my hands.


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© Copyright 2006 Tammie Keiko Oka & Trout.