I was just a kid, didn’t know

how far I couldn’t go

hunting skin against skin


a legacy of hunger.

I was just a kid. I’d

started bleeding at 10


then learned to wear wit

like a burqa but still I burned.

I yearned for some relief from


wild animals that roamed my skin

at night, leaving shocky fingerprints

between my legs, hunger


warm and ripe in my mouth. Once

a boy said, “Let me put it in just a little bit”

as our parents slept in the next room.


By then I’d already sat bare-assed

a dance tutu over my vagina

as other girls reached thrusting hands.


No one there to tame us we were

children of skin and want. We could

bewitch the innocent with


our terrible, hungry hands

suck them whole into our mouths,

as we played, drunk on desire.




Copyright 2015 Carrie Holbo Photography

Paulette Beete's work has appeared in journals including Crab Orchard Review, Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Escape Into Life, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, and many others. She is the author of the chapbooks Blues for a Pretty Girl (Finishing Line Press) and Voice Lessons (Plan B Press). She blogs (occasionally) at