Toy Aisle Twat
Between the sludgy bike rack and sharp prison of plastic balls,
A filthier sight stands: a two-pack of pervs pretending to be parents.
Not a couple kid-touchers. A couple touching in front of their kid.
The man, a squat scruffy imbecile, a knuckle deep into the woman’s crotch.
His woman, he wants everyone to know since she wears no ring to signify it.
He grips her small cheek like it’s the ball that cost him the World Series,
Until the fingers tarantula-creep toward her vagina and nestle in the crevices.
The woman smirks and looks to the side, not shy, ignoring her child’s chirps.
The kid jumps on the cart, rattling the undercarriage where 24-count sodas fizz,
Unable to refocus her parents’ attention or process the confusing scene.
She reminds me of me from age nine to now: messy brunette, perpetual squint,
Nervous energy vibrating between bones, pigeon toed and soft-toned.
On her behalf, I’d like to take a graphic-wrapped bat from the cage
And swing and slug at her father until he spits out quarts of scarlet silly string.
We could play Jax with his missing teeth, jump rope until the janitor comes.
But I’m as helpless as her—still frozen still, and it disgusts me.
I want to spill my stomach onto the scuffed linoleum, scream shame into them—
But how without upsetting the girl? The girl in me is exponentially more upset
and maybe overreacting, but the cart-side girl may grow to be like me.
Let the unforgiveness fester, wishing castration upon strangers.
Old enough to feel violated but young enough to not know why.
Why don’t I say anything?
Why is my breath caught in my throat like I’m the one being fondled
By an oaf with oversize basketball shorts and construction boss nails?
Because this is no Radiohead coy boy, a one-off act of exhibition.
I know the type. An affectionless lech. A father you wish was deadbeat or beat dead.
He probably told his girlfriend to put on the yoga pants, the girl to pipe down
As she shook with tears in the corner of a rundown townhouse,
A red mark marring her forehead for interrupting his game.
This isn’t the first or last time his fingers will muck up her childhood
With memories of aggression, the most casual of sex, and gruff indifference.
Gunk and gristle flake off his flesh, smearing the portrait of her future.
His touch darkens hues red, black, and blue, blurs the fault lines in her map.
A self-sabotaging curiosity colors her course, bestows a seasick sheen,
Claustrophobic chest pressure, an aversion to men and mistrust of mothers.
Maybe ten years from now, the parents will look at each other and wonder
Why they never get a call-back from the daughter they made mute
And shoved into the background like a piece of furniture on a porn set.
Maybe ten years from now, the daughter will look at a depraved couple
In the middle of a department store and remember the reason
She’ll never speak to her family again or have the courage to call out a stranger,
Just dream of twisting car keys into the offender’s back like a windup toy,
Like I couldn’t, wound into a rage, watching the little girl jump on the cart.
Silently, we scream for attention, a voice, someone to save the day and restore innocence
To the tiny strip of land, the shrinking little island of sanctity we knew as the toy aisle.