10
Jul
2016
0

Shame

Shame by DaMaris Hill

Dickey Moe traveled up and down Broad Street like a clot in a vein, flaring up and exposing himself to whoever was looking. Throwing his overcoat open like an undone shoelace on a quick moving roller skate, he left us undone.

We were always on lookout for him, this Cuban man. His nose was a jumbo cashew carved into an ashy coconut. Our eyes would surf the stone and standing crowdsfor him. We had to walk 2.3 miles to and from school. We went out of our way to be educated, because they labeled us gifted. We were in middle school, fixin’ to be women, well on our way, observant and practicing in every instance. We would be walking, watering the concrete in our sugared sweat and switching if we saw something worth winking at. We would be the whole way through a Downtown, under the tracks andUptown in under an hour. Uptown is where we had choices, a bit of relief from our Dickey Moe duties. We could choose a way to walk and Dickey Moe, with his unshaven body, stubble on his head and chest, some of it silver, could choose another direction. We would use our words and his absence to warn him that he better choose the other.

You smelled him before he showed. Cheap wine was his aura; it lingered like the image of his large cock leaping toward you when he threw back the wicked wings of his weather coat.

We were careful to be on guard for Dickey Moe, jumping out of gray doorways or stumbling from behind bricks and buses, boasting his manhood, stiffening the spines of middle school girls. We watched for him, this villain, that some had mistaken for a vagrant.

And once we passed the first pizza shop, the one that had the thick crust and water sauce, we made our way through Downtown, crossed under the tracks, used our memories and new math to count our left over lunch money. We would stop at the corner store as a reward, after we had gone on up and around Uptown and then safely into our neighborhood before the solo strolls of my treelined street

On the warmest days, we would take the longer way, the way that passed the law offices and courthouse. In such daylight, Dickey Moe would not be near.  Then we’d right our walk past Jessie’s apartment building. We don’t know him or lust yet, so therewas no need to be alarmed. Next to this building is a Catholic school and with little worries on the last bits of our walk home, we talk, like good girlfriends do  in giggles – describing all the ways we were going to get the boy we desired. Our plans are elaborate. We call his house at a certain hour and speak real sweet to his mama when she answeredPlan to stroll through his neighborhood a few days later, looking for some illusive loose candy that isn’t sold Uptown.  We list the people counting on our fingers. We say the names of those we will interview about his likes and his associations.  We are smart girls and will figure out the details like which of his friends have to be distracted in order to make room for the romances we are planning, discussing and discovering what kind of kisses he will like and where he would lay them on ‘us’. And as we giggled, our whole bodies responded in a glow, even the new parts seem to bobble. Our laughter was fragrant like bubbles from fancy dish detergent. When I feel my breast foldin like a red clown’s nose and as my hands go to collect all that has deflated in this denizen’s hand, I realize that I must be a freak, not only was I fluffy in every way possible, but my voice box must be stored in my breast and because I didn’t see him touch me. My protestevaporate like a belch.  

By the time I find my screams, the kind that sail in stares, he is a whole halfablock away. I want to yell at him, but my best friend, my first line of defense and only protector, shushes me. Bestie tells me to shake it off quickly. Tells me it is nothing. And that it would happen all the time and over again”.  I reluctantly believe her and now I wonder how she knew. 

I never saw the freshly ironed Asian man cornering me in the straights of the block. He faded into the landscape, probably a lawyer. There were no warnings. Not even the stench of Dickey Moe.  There was no dramatic dress coat or king sized cock, but this small man had crooked my spine, latched on and leaked until all that was good and girl in me was gone.  My fluffily breasts became gristle.  My tonguesome water logged whistle.  The world became some prickly thing that pressed against me in the breeze.

I never saw the freshly ironed Asian man cornering me in the straights of the block. He faded into the landscape, probably a lawyer. There were no warnings. Not even the stench of Dickey Moe.  There was no dramatic dress coat or king sized cock, but this small man had crooked my spine, latched on and leaked until all that was good and girl in me was gone.  My fluffily breasts became gristle.  My tonguesome water logged whistle.  The world became some prickly thing that pressed against me in the breeze.


In 2008, DaMaris Hill relocated from Baltimore, Maryland to Lawrence, Kansas in order to pursue her creative writing career. In addition to working or taking workshops with poets such as Lucille Clifton, Ken Irby, Nikky Finney, Monifa Love-Asante and Natasha Trethewey, Hill sought to strengthen her writing with a degree in creative writing. Her development as a poet has also been enhanced by the institutional support of the Key West Literary Seminar/Writers Workshops, Callaloo Literary Writers Workshop, Furious Flower Poetry Center at James Madison University and Bread Loaf Writers’ Conference. Currently, She serves the University of Kentucky as an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing and African American and Africana Studies.

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