They never let me
do the senseless things,
I always had to
act right.
I too slow,
or stubborn.
I was difficult
or not paying attention.
“I’ll make you mind,”
I heard their threats
to others,
and kept in line.
I will not talk
in class,
I wrote a hundred
times across the board.
But I lied.

I could not be a child
when it was timely
and appropriate.
I had to grow up,
help the others read,
guard my little
brother, take care
of my mother,
even though
I didn’t know
what they meant,

and so I never
learned to take
care of me.