Poetry by Katharine Quince
He made the best crab cakes
played Santa Claus every year
doled out the top toys and big checks
drove a Cadillac.
When the other adults
couldn’t, or wouldn’t, see
he looked at us
in a way we didn’t talk about
until we were drunk and older.
He pulled me on his lap,
kissed me on the lips.
I fear what I don’t remember.
A strawberry blonde soccer player
suddenly took an interest.
He sang me love songs,
I gave him my virginity in the afternoon.
He dumped me right after.
A girl’s body wagered in a bet
without her even knowing.
I was a waitress,
he the owner’s cousin.
I was 16; he, 29.
He would sit at the bar and stare.
I let him kiss me on New Year’s Eve.
Later, he wanted more.
Ripped the buttons off a borrowed blouse that
still hides in the back of a drawer.
Wrinkled white ball of shame.
I moved away,
moved in with a boyfriend everyone loved.
He loved music and hiking and me.
I stayed the first time he turned over a table.
I left, on tiptoes, when he punched a hole in the wall.
He broke into my new apartment,
stole my journal, waved a knife.
I stopped eating,
I dreamt of him
swooping from the ceiling like a bat.
He’s gone now.
Gone like the man on the crowded bus who offered his lap as a seat.
Gone like the boy who called thirty times a day for weeks.
Gone like the ex who called me a whore.
Gone like my grandfather.
By gone I mean, here.
Surrounding me, alive in me.
Pounding my tightening chest.
I am, like all the rest of us,
Katharine Quince is a feminist writer, social justice strategist, and Theravada Buddhist. Oregon has been her beloved home for over 15 years, though she still longs for North Carolina’s cicadas and lightening bug summers. She received Honorable Mention for her poem “Streetcar Ride in Spring” from the Oregon Poetry Association in 2012. Her poetry also appears on Toe Good and in Motionless from the Iron Bridge: A Northwest Anthology of Bridge Poems (John Sibley Williams, Ed., 2013).