Catherine Zickgraf

God in His Heaven saw this that night  
when He looked down through His blackened sky: 
In the dead of night, 
apartment lights glow on the sidewalk.  
And the outline of a child  
could be seen from above. 
In the back of a pick-up behind the apartments, 
I laid myself down in the Winston packs and wet leaves, 
legs exposed to the moon.  
Homeschooled till 9th grade.   
Beaten and watched.  
You can stare at your kid all day, 
but eventually you’ll have to sleep.   
In the truck bed, 
a long-haired boy unzipped 
and cut hips into my inner thighs.   
He was working hard, his eyes gripped tight.   
But I had the spotlight, and this was my stage.                                      
Other boys smoked behind the dumpster,  
salivating, waiting to feed on me next.   
Freed from single mothers in the dead of night,  
they pressed my spine in the rust,  
dragged my hair through the dust.   
I was dirty, my shorts under me, 
then had to wear them home.  
When I woke on my pillow a few hours later,  
bruises were blooming between my legs. 
The world is immoral, 
my parents warned during family devotions.   
So this must be normal behavior out here.   
But if this was so common among Unbelievers,  
why would the neighborhood judge me for this— 
the girls down the street screaming whore at my house?   
After breakfast, my face against the painted-shut windows, 
the bus would take those kids to school.   
But I was only thirteen and homeschooled  
with no other escape than  
my spine in the rust in the back of a truck.  
Operation Rescue 
1991, I was 15.   
And on the corner of 12th and Locust, 
Mrs. Gee gently told me  
to stop making eye contact with drivers 
at the stop sign. 
I was there with pamphlets for passers-by. 
I was there to share my story: 
my son was safe somewhere.  
In the middle of Center City, Philly,  
a tiny garden is protected by an iron gate.  
It wasn’t my job to block it.  
From the outskirts,  
I watched the choreography at the entryway.   
Fathers and nuns and young adults prayed rosaries,  
beseeched Mary to ask her Son to make abortion illegal again. 
Thus clinic visits were prevented 
until the police arrived by bus, zip-tied the congregation,  
and took them all away. 
It was quiet in ‘94 when I took an elevator  
from a Miami parking garage to my appointment.  
No protestors were staked-out outside offering other choices 
or threatening hell with horrifying signs, 
no need to be escorted inside. 
When it was done,  
that tiny spirit and I fell out the 8th floor window  
like shadows from the silent sky. 

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