“Pssssssst” by Carol Kanter

Image result for unripe banana

It is a secret what happened
once and more than once
when I was small
much smaller than my cousin

who taught me how to feel
helpless and afraid
for doing what I knew
was wrong

only because he made me promise
not to tell, NEVER
to tell. He would hiss at me
“Or Else”

and twist my skinny arm
behind my back
to show he could and would
make me suffer worse.

He did not explain how
he had the power
or what worse might be
just left me

to imagine—
how in the night dark
mom and dad would leave

I try to keep the secret
buried deep
but it leaks out in bad dreams
I cannot shake

because they grip me
the way a not-quite-ripe banana
holds tight its peel.
But already I can smell

how delicious it will be
to strip off fear
when I get big enough
to tell.



Carol Kanter‘s poetry has been published in Ariel, Blue Unicorn, ByLine, Common Ground, Explorations, Hammers, Iowa Woman, Kaleidoscope Ink, The Madison Review, The Mid-America Poetry Review, Pudding Magazine, River Oak Review, Sendero, Sweet Annie Press, Thema, Universities West Press, and a number of anthologies. Korone named her the Illinois Winner of its 2001 writing project. Atlanta Review gave her an International Merit Award in poetry in 2003 and 2005. Finishing Line Press published her first chapbook, “Out of Southern Africa,” in 2005, and her second, “Chronicle of Dog,” in 2006