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Monday, December 13, 2021


by Marsha Owens

i knew that girl
who rode my bus,
raped by her uncle
who told us dirty jokes.
neighbor women whispered...
only twelve, gone to the home.
i knew the home
out of town
on the highway, for girls
who got themselves pregnant
like they caught a cold
for not wearing a jacket.
i didn’t know
the girl i passed downtown,
defiant chin lifted to catch
cooling air in the wrinkles
of her shiny black neck,
like road tar melting
on a hot july day, baby
in her 14-year-old belly.
i knew my whiter-than-white
neighborhood looked away
as i hung my white blouse 
in the closet,
coat hangers jangling
impatience like little girls
who just want to go outside
and play.
Author's Note: I came of age in the 1960s, and suddenly the world was upended... Vietnam, birth control, and in the 70s, RvW. The 1950s seemed like ancient history in many ways. I grew up in the South in a white neighborhood, but we didn’t use the word ‘segregated.’ Black people lived ‘downtown’ or ‘in the country.’ Now I feel like I’m living in a time warp as Roe v. Wade is, apparently, about to be overturned, and African Americans are once again, being lynched. 

Marsha Owens is a retired teacher who lives and writes in Richmond, VA, and at times, along the banks of the beautiful Chesapeake Bay. Her essays and poetry have appeared in both print and online publications including The Sun, The Dead Mule, Huffington Post, Wild Word Anthology, Rat’s Ass Review, Rise Up Review, PoetsReadingtheNews, and The New Verse News. She is a co-editor of the poetry anthology Lingering in the Margins, and her chapbook She Watered Her Flowers in the Morning is forthcoming from Finishing Line Press.