There was no warning
that winter morning
bright and clean as a cut
I walked the cobbled alley
at 10 a.m. in my old
expecting nothing but the bus
I hoped to catch
in time for my next class.

Then came the sudden
rush of someone
running from behind
and hands brought down
hard and quick
over my mouth and eyes.

In that first breath
I thought it was a friend
surprising me
with the “guess who” game,
but those hands
pulled me hard
down and back
filling me
with wild refusal
as I pushed back
dragging myself up
hand over hand
on a cyclone fence
then reaching up behind me,
fingers clawed, stabbing
at his eyes–
and when his hands slip
I bite them hard
surprising us
out of the clutch–

I stood and turned,
and we stared at each other
for one long breath
before running
in opposite directions.

I saw a stranger
a young black man
an ordinary face
too smooth
to shout a warning

I don’t know who he saw-
a stranger
a woman walking all alone
even in daylight
an invitation to assault-
No one I knew here
No one I recognized.

Later the detective said
nothing could be done,
since I was not raped or robbed
he had taken nothing
anyone could count,
but he hoped I had
“washed out my mouth
real good.”-

Stunning me into silence,
alone again with nothing
but teeth and nails.

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Image Credit:Jenn Zed
A former RN, I studied art and literature. I have always been a writer, but not part of any academic/literary community. I have an electronic chapbook available as a free download from Praxis magazine online, titled "Things I Was Told Not to Think About"


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