Child Sex Criminal



At six
I find the place,
the tender glans
whose finger-rub
in gentle circles
makes me tremble,
till sparklers go off
from brain-stem
to end of spine.
It was, and remained
my secret,
an under-blanket ritual.

So much to mind
about the body’s plumbing:
dry underwear,
toilet concealment,
as though the outcome
of last night’s dinner
was a national secret.

Nervous Aunt Thelma
chides us:
How can you have a bathroom
next to the kitchen?
The sound of flushing
sickens me.



First grade at Hecla School
you raised your hand
and asked to go
to the cave-cool bathroom

Second grade boys
march to the bathroom
expected to pee
on the teacher’s schedule.

I confide to the principal
at the next urinal:
I don’t have to go —
I’m just pretending
.


On homeward bus,
half-dozen boys
hunch over, wince
from the agony
of holding it in
just five more minutes.
I cannot hold it,
walk stained
and dripping
to shouts and spanking.

My penis rebels
against conformity,
an unzipped peeper
as Miss McReady
explains subtractions.

I touch the spot.
It springs to attention.
Suzie, who gave me
the chicken pox, stares
from the cross-aisle seat
and giggles. Five
minus three is two
.

A nature book
from a restricted shelf —
NOT TO BE REMOVED
FROM CLASSROOM

tells all about spiders.
I take it home one night
to show my mother,
devour by moonlight
long after the lights-out,
then slide it back
to its shelf-place
at the start of school-day.

But someone saw,
and ran to tell Miss Macready.
Now books the other children
may borrow,
I am not allowed to borrow.
“We don’t loan books
to thieves,”
my teacher tells me.

We learn to read music.
After I was out with measles,
I returned to find them singing
with flats and sharps. I had
no idea what they were doing.
Miss McReady will not explain.
I am trapped forever
in the C-Major scale.

My next report card
alerts my parents:
DISOBEYS SCHOOL
REGULATIONS
.

My mother assumes
it’s over the book
brought home by stealth
and just as quietly
restored.

Suzie and Miss Macready
whisper and glare at me.
I read what I want
and when I want to,
break rules
I find ridiculous.
I have already decided
there is no god.
I will never sing in a church choir.
I will not pee on demand.
I am marked for life:

thief,
rule-breaker,
child sex criminal.

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