Speak – Rachael Ikins

speak rachel
The time I whispered
with shame to my parents
3 years after the fact, that my high school Spanish teacher molested
me, my mom said “Oh,
don’t tell
That night, school Open House.
My dad shrugging rumples
of raincoat over his suit,
a jerky adrenaline rush, said,
 “I’m going up there to punch her face.”
(My heart thrilled)
My mom said, “Oh.
No. Don’t.”
How to break a heart.
Only a kid,
14 when it happened.
She called me words I didn’t understand “prick tease” said she wanted to
“put things in my box.”
She and her partner had me for dinner.
She bought me a ring, and humiliated me with sarcasm I was not equipped to decode.
Where she told me to hide my underwear so my mother wouldn’t see, while she touched me in ways I did not understand. That hurt.
When I entered my 50s,
I reconnected with teachers from my childhood. I asked these octogenarians if they knew what had happened to Miss P?
Did they know she was gay?
Did she abuse other students?
They had no clues.
She disappeared into history,
retired, moved, or died, who can say.
I looked that peculiar last name up last year on WhitePages to see was it listed.
I am a grandmother now,
but I still remember the first time on the camp couch.
That afternoon in her city living room.
When I see a spirea bush
or eat Brie and strawberries.
Smell peonies.
It was June,
when earth has woken with birdsong and floral exuberance.
Because we did not speak of this,
I chose her over and over
until at age 56 I was brave enough
to pack dogs and cat, legal papers and meds. in my Tracker and leave all my worldly belongings and her
at last.
I speak.


Image courtesy of Pinterest

Rachael Ikins is a 2016/18 Pushcart, 2013/18 CNY Book Award, 2018 Independent Book Award winner, prize-winning author/artist with 9 books. Syracuse University grad, member CNY branch NLAPW, and Associate Editor of Clare Songbirds Publishing House, Auburn, NY. Her new memoir Eating the Sun a love story narrative punctuated by poetry and garden recipes available 4/2019 at Clare Songbirds Publishing House.

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