Regular girls played hopscotch and dress up
They pretended to be grown up.
Except for me.
I had to be grown up. I was not pretending.
Left to fend for myself every night
I had to support the family somehow
“Go,” my mother would say. And
Having no escape, I would humbly obey
Then get in the car.
Itchy beards and squeezing hands
Street corner rendezvous
Rapists, criminals, degenerates
If they had the money
Coughed up the dough
Then what would it matter?
How I longed to be like the other girls.
Every night, my mother coated me in perfume.
Smeary lipstick and tight clothes.
“Pretty,” She would smile her crooked tobacco stained smile.
When the men at the tea shop joke about having their way with me
My father denies having a daughter.
Men would come in and have their way
Each one worse than the last.
Reaching and grabbing
“Easy little girl,” They’d laugh.
Sweaty palms scraped along my mango skin
They’d go in for the kill
Inside, I am numb.
Only a repository for strange men