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When I was in my twenties,
a young father for the first time,
believer in God, destiny and paradise,
for a forever life if I could stay faithful,
hang on through the Last Days, I would
look at my child, not even one year
old, and fear to change her diaper
while I was alone in the house. Not
worried I would fuck it up, not afraid
of vomiting or getting shit on my hands.
I’d always heard that people who were
molested were likely to molest their own
children, and I read likely as almost certain.
So I was afraid, and when I cleaned her, I was
ginger about it, and didn’t do as good a job as
I should have and she got rashes and my now
ex-wife is asking why I ‘m not changing our girl
enough and I can’t tell her because I can’t even
tell myself that I’m terrified some part of me
was corrupted by a woman whose name I
wouldn’t say aloud for another 25 years. That I
wouldn’t be able to help myself, that I would do
something to this child I loved more than my own life
and it would be my fault for being damaged, bringing a life
into this world when I damn well knew better. And what do
you do then? What the fuck are you supposed to do then?



What do you
remember from age four?
I have a conversation with my
mother where I asked if I was old
enough to go to school yet; jumping
out of the tree in our front yard with
a bath towel stretched over my head
as a parachute, a dog I named Fluffy,
a sitter named Karen. My memory
says I was mature for age four, could
already read, could hold long conversations
with adults. My memory tells me I reasoned,
not reacted emotionally, knew right from wrong.
I was strong, not like your average kidlet, not like
my daughters now who don’t yet get the difference
between penis and vulva, who cry when we say
yes we’ll go to the park but only after we eat our
favorite lunch at our favorite restaurant,
who can’t quite pronounce their l’s and r’s.
My memory says she saw something more in me,
something special she didn’t see in the boys she
went to high school with, that she wanted me for me.



Did I think
of Karen in the night
when my pubescent dick
rubbed the top sheet of my
single bed beside the plush
turtle my granddad gave
me, the one I still slept with,
the one I practiced tongue-
kissing on every night before
I fell asleep? Did I see her body
in the Sears catalog swimsuits,
in the lingerie catalog snatched
from the mailbox and hidden
between mattress and box springs?



The last time I
saw you, I must have
been six because that’s
when we moved away.
You hadn’t been my
sitter for a while, though
we lived near each other.
We were in your living
room. I was bad. I
wanted you to punish me.