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if i had known that awaited me as i hobbled
into the locker room at the public pool
that day, i wouldn't have so readily told
my mother i'd meet her out front on my own.

nursing the raw patches of skin on my feet
from the rough pool bottom, belying the
the impending rawness of fear, paralyzing.

there were two of them.
i'm not sure how old but certainly well beyond
my eight years of naivete that i carried
over my shoulder with my towel,
eight years of purity dripping down my body
with the chlorine pool water too weak
with irony to cleanse me.

i did not know that sitting alone on a
bench of innocence is an open invitation
for attempted molestation.

"hey," one said. "you wanna see a dick?"

my nervously choked refusal wasn't quite strong enough;
not stronger than the smell of fear on which
his canine mind capitalized.
they approached, i cowered.
no reproach, mouth soured.

only eight with a dick in my face
cheshire cat smile, taste of bile,
smell of pool water beguiles my senses.
fear frozen, eyes closing...
loss of innocence approaching.

i'm not quite sure how much time past,
happened too fast. like a voice calling out
in the wilderness, i hear my name echo through
the locker room.
the wolves scatter and
my innocence follows me like
mary's little lamb out into the sun's
salvation light.
wool slightly stained but as of yet
still unshorn.

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