The bully on the bus,
is always saving me a seat now,
and I’m seven and I don’t care for politics,
anyhow he’s not opening my hair or asking me where I learnt to kick.
it’s April and it’s too hot anyway
and at home is a rusted pan,
waiting, so I can materialize the best banana cake, and draw a horse and sleep.
and it’s everyday
and my best friend is sad we don’t play chopsticks on the bus anymore
but I am too
but I am more afraid of the things that haven’t touched me yet,
so we don’t play chopsticks that month
or ever.
he unbuttons my shirt as I count the coconut trees from the palms,
this must mean I am one of the boys,
after all they float around the same way chests baring, unafraid,
and when it hurts I don’t say anything
after all
this is the ex bully,
and I want to win this round.
here I am,
a ragdoll of a girl,
barely tall enough to look out of the window,
in the lap of a boy,
I was certain, would one day kill me,
I calculate
all the things I would do the next time his hand is under my skirt,
like punch him,
bite off his ear,
all the black eyes I would award,
the bleeding noses,
I would need a ladder to reach his face,
I would need the bus to halt for a minute,
so I don’t sway,
I would need someone who can reach his face,
to talk.
even though I rock like a rubber duck in the sea,
at least I wasn’t being bullied
at least I was pretty,
years later
I spend a long time getting over men
who want to hurt me first
and then hurt me differently.
I double knot my shoelaces so I don’t trip,
I never became a great baker.
when I take a bus now,
I count the trees that whiz by,
all the people that don’t look,
maybe one day
I’ll be tall enough
to peep inside a bus,
and coax the truth out.


Artwork credit: Ranjay Sarkar