SHOW AND TELL

In first grade
I used to play
with a girl, Sylvia.

Her older sister, Becky,
from third grade, is the first girl
to show me her pussy.

Becky danced for me
under an orange tree where
we all played children’s games.

She asked me to please
watch. She sang and
twirled under the canopy

of leaves, her short skirt
rising and falling, unveiling bare
legs and a pantyless bottom.

Suddenly, she stopped

singing and twirling, and
turned her back to me.

She flipped up her skirt
and “boom-boomed” me,
then giggled and sprinted off.

Her sister Sylvia liked
to play with matches. Her
long blonde hair caught fire.

She ran swiftly
from under the tree,
panic-stricken, across

the patio, her hair
waving in ribbons of flame
as she screamed, “Mommy!”

Her mother banged
through the back door, and
turned on the wash basin.

She grabbed Sylvia, and
shoved her head beneath
the running water.

She got cross
with me, and told me,
“You go home!”

Becky asked
me to come up
to her playhouse

in another orange tree
near her bedroom. No one
could see us up there.

She wore a flower print
skirt in the playhouse
and sat on her bum

without underwear, her knees
raised, so I could peer inside
the tent they formed

between her legs.
She picked up pine
needles and touched

herself and talked
to me as I watched
her fingers move.

“Doesn’t it hurt?” I asked.
“No, silly!” she said, smiling,
“it’s normal.”

Sylvia’s mother asked
if Becky had been taking
her clothes off for me.

“Not really. Sometimes she
dances, sometimes she
shows me stuff.”

Her mother didn’t scold or
get mad or wave me
off:
“If she does that again,

you let me know, okay?
She’s not supposed
to be showing you ‘stuff’.”

Sylvia didn’t get hurt
from the fire. She lost her hair
but she didn’t get burned.

—Stacey Warde

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