Alexandra Bentayou

Four of us:


three boys and I was the girl. I could see two
faces—the older boys, directing. I had known
the boy was bad—Brian or Riley?—I’d heard
Shireese say he was, snapping back and forth
with him on the red house lawn. I didn’t understand
the insults boys and girls threw at each other
but I liked the way their shouting and laughs
made the grey air ripple. This day, maybe
the boy from the red house was wearing a red
sweatshirt, and Jason was wearing blue. Jason
had the same smile he’d have the rest of the years
I’d know him. My arms were up over my head, and so
was Lincoln, holding them down, as I lay on the ground
behind his garage. He was taking orders. He looked up
eagerly and jabbered the way he always did but no one
listened. My jeans were folded over my knees. I think
I tried to kick. I think I was wearing my puffy jacket
with a surface like rubber and the color of the sky
that day. I knew this was where the dogs went
to the bathroom and I was lying in it. The boy
from the red house and Jason were smiling

but a little scared. It was their plan to see a girl’s
bottom. I tried to tell the grownups making spaghetti
in the steam-filled kitchen. My dad tells jokes
as he pours boiling water into the sink; his face is wet
and ruddy. Who is laughing? My mother—my aunt?
I don’t have my jacket when I come indoors.
I’m wearing a red-striped T-shirt. There are cups of wine
and I smell a sweet red sauce. Maybe now it’s summer again
and I missed my chance to say what happened. Maybe
it’s a new time. This is what happened:

some boys pulled down my pants and looked
at me naked on the ground. I don’t think
they touched me and I know it’s not much. Nothing
came of it. I know it happened because I can see
all of it except my private parts.      I wish
there was something terrible           to see at the bottom
of memory      behind the garage     by some bushes
among the rocks where once I found what might have been
a fossil of a shell          but from then on I mostly see
myself                            more and more          making up games
              stories                         people I could keep in my yard.


Alexandra Bentayou grew up in Shaker Heights, Ohio. She has an MFA in poetry from New York University and she currently lives in the Bronx with her cat Bastet where she is employed in social work. Her poetry has been published in Soft Surface Poetry and is forthcoming in Stonecoast Review.

Issue 10 • Next: P. Claire Dodson