When I Was Eleven
In the living room of my grandparents’ house
I play the piano,
a little girl,
hot-blooded and innocent.
Parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins,
all in the kitchen, talking, laughing.
It is Thanksgiving.
I play for myself.
My great grandfather,
and old man in baggy railroad overalls,
his empty eye socket covered with black,
and stands behind the piano stool.
Reaching around me his fingers rub circles
around my tiny breasts.
He takes my hand úand leads me into
his room with the high bed
and the smell of stale tobacco,
where once he showed me
a glass ball filled with snow.
Sitting on the edge of the bed
he pulls me toward him,
muttering, his face slack and pleading.
This is a look I have never seen before,
Putting his hand between my legs
his fingers rub through the cloth.
Inside me fear and desire merge.
I am captured.
Suddenly I shatter.
Shame floods me,
becomes my prison.
I start to pull away.
I want to apologise.
I escape to the living room,
now a strange place.
I’m no longer safe.
Huddled in the corner of the sofa
I am very, very little.
I want to disappear.
And I do.