Best of the Net 2008  


— The fear of rape.

They took her out to the field in a new black truck
that smelled like apples and the denim

of a young man’s thigh. They turned the engine off
but left the radio on, the headlights lighting

the woods to the west, toward the mountains, then
to California. They laid her down

and tied her hands over her head with field-grass.
She could have pulled them free, no problem,

ripped the roots right out of that soft dark dirt.
They told her she was beautiful.

They took off their shirts. She saw the black of their arms
backlit in gold by the truck’s headlights.

One of them started to crack a joke, but stopped
halfway in. They took off her shoes

and touched her ankles, but only barely. She waited
for them to lift the hem of her skirt

but they were scared and it was cold out there.
She arched her back and held her breath,

eyes closed, but they kept saying they were sorry.
She told them to shut the fuck up, and if

they started to cry, she’d kill them and take the truck
and no one in town would ever know.

While they were kicking off their jeans, so slowly,
she listened to the radio

and the cicadas whirring like the circular saws
in the highschool shop, and a distant hum

that might have been a train if any trains
still ran anywhere nearby.

It must have been a plane somewhere way up
overhead, though she couldn’t tell

because it was cloudy and dark, which bothered her;
she’d wanted them to see her face

moonlit and cold, staring up as they did it,
impossible to ever forget.

-Patrick Ryan Frank (Boxcar Poetry Review)