Sitting on the concrete steps at school
chatting with my girlfriends
suddenly shocked by unknown hands from behind
lovingly caressing my long hair.
Instantly I’m seven again, drowsy with pleasure
from Aunt N’s comb dragging lazily over my scalp
combing my hair through and through
with her adoring, intimate touch.
I close my eyes, indulging for one second
before turning around slowly
to view the perpetrator of this cruel teasing.
In his eyes I see confusion, then fear, then pity
and we both know I am not his girlfriend:
another sophomore with dark, wavy tresses.
I cannot cover my loneliness fast enough
but at least he doesn’t laugh.
He repeats, “I’m so sorry,” just above a whisper
and backs away with faultless palms facing me.
My friends sit respectfully stunned
while I ache with new, inner knowledge—
this is how it feels to be touched by a man.