Perverted

Location

Chicago
United States

Walking down Bryn Mawr, it doesn’t even matter

if it’s late at night, the cat calls echo off dents in vans,

hit me hard, twice I was followed, twice I hid

in the gum aisle of 711, called my dad to pick me up.

These pickup trucks beep on corners, rusty bumpers

like scalpels these men make my scalp pull the ends

of my hair nervously—  I am not a biology lesson.

I walk this every day. I have never missed a day.

Perfect attendance since kindergarten is the only

thing perfect about me. I wandered home this morning

hungover too exhausted to brush my teeth so I let the taste

of last night fill me all day as I lay in bed and read

the articles about Woody Allen.

Dylan Farrow told the New York Times her daddy made her

lie on her stomach and watch the toy train set make its way

around the tracks. He touched her surrounded by toys.

I peel at my left fingernail when I read this but

there is no left fingernail left, I tear at it daily, I bite.

I snack on cuticles until I bleed, I can’t remember

the last time I had all 10 fingernails at once. Sometimes

movies distract me, distract my teeth, movies like Annie Hall

or Midnight in Paris, I dream of Paris like most girls do.

Dylan Farrow said that when he was finished, Woody used to

promise he’d take her there and she could star in his movies,

she could be a star.

Woody, she said you used to lay your head in her naked lap.

The movies distract me, I use school to distract me,

and I can’t imagine not walking down Bryn Mawr

and getting catcalled by perverts, I can’t imagine

Dylan Farrow getting cat called by her father.

Woody, we forgave you. We forgave you for leaving Mia,

beautiful Mia who you made a star to marry her teenage

daughter. It was hard but we forgave you and that was a mistake.

You never made Dylan a star like you promised.

Last night in the bathroom of the Congress Hotel,

I did things that one year ago I promised i would never do

because I’m not that kind of girl. I’m the kind of girl who

doesn’t miss school, not the kind of girl that lets the perverts

kiss her or the kind of girl that ends up in a bathroom

of the Congress Hotel in the stairwell with someone whose name

I don’t know. I wish I could keep believing in the best of us

both Woody, I wish I could be as forgiving as America.

Soon Yi was eighteen.

In the first sentence of her letter, Dylan Farrow asked us

to pick our favorite Woody Allen movie. Manhattan

was always mine. Dylan asked us again at the end

of the letter except now it made sense— in Manhattan,

you end up with a girl who is seventeen, you choose

the high-schooler and the high-schooler every time, Woody.

I lay here, my head pounding and mouth aching with memories

of last night, my neck covered in hickeys that never belong

to the boy who I love who I probably only think is cute because

thirty years ago, you made it okay to like the geeky boys and dream

of intellectual discourse, witty retorts, and now I’m realizing

that means as little as anything else. Intellectual discourse and witty retorts—

Soon Yi was eighteen.

Mariel Hemingway’s character was seventeen.

Well i’m sixteen—

would you kiss me, Woody?

I’m more scared to know if I’d kiss you back

because Dylan was seven.

I stay up late every night these days, tearing at my thumbnail

like it’s steak and I count the minutes till dawn till I walk to school

so the men in their cars can tear at me like I’m steak.

This poem is about: 
Me
My community
Poetry Terms Demonstrated: 

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