I learned my place quickly. See,
among the kids on the playground, I
was never fast. I was a joke among tag-players;
it is no exaggeration that I never tagged anyone.
But tag-you’re-it was the least of my worries.
I learned my place quickly, chased down
daily by a pack of boys from my class. To this day,
I couldn’t tell anyone what started it. I kept to myself:
They were wolves, and I was the rabbit they were hunting.
Run aground, pebbles kicked in my face; it was
just like the bullies in the cartoons—
But when it’s one little girl against six boys, I couldn’t find
the humour in it:
Cartoons like that didn’t make me laugh anymore.
I learned my place quickly. “Boys will be boys,”
Was the response from teachers when I came back inside:
crying, covered in dirt, shaking the pebbles out of my shirt.
“It just means they like you.” Yet I couldn’t grasp how
pushing me to the ground, kicking dirt and rocks into my face
equated to affection. If that was how boys acted then I
would rather die than have a boyfriend.
Their antics were validated on principle that they were boys,
and so their dominance in society was assured from day one.
The rest of us, the prey, had to deal with it; I would be sent to
The principal for this principle because I became desperate
and would hide in the woods just to get away.
I was reprimanded and shamed, while the boys got
a gentle slap on the wrist,
and a reminder:
I learned my place quickly.
another poetry class assignment, this time we had to write a poem about childhood.