Articles, Poem

Poem: Banana Split

Banana Split

I was catcalled for the first time today.

Really catcalled.

Not a few whistles from an open car window,

or the flash of a phone camera out of the corner of your

blue eye.




The kind of catcall

that goes







Even when his friend whispers,

“they’re girls”.

As if to say they’re just girls

not women.

Save them for later.


But still he calls

Even when you’ve crossed four lanes of traffic.

Even when you’ve walked down the slanting sidewalk

to the ice cream parlor with a polar bear

plastered on the window.


It was the kind of catcall that

you blame yourself for.

That you beat yourself for.

That you go over one hundred times in your head

how he yelled,

“that one’s smiling. She likes it”.

And you realize that ‘one’

was you.


That you had smiled because your first extinct was to think

this can’t be happening.

Your $7.50 banana split melted

before you could

work up

the nerve

to eat it.


You were watching for the park bench,

for the three men outside the used bookstore.

You feel like you’re five years old again,

forcing walnuts and

browning banana

down your throat,

chocolate syrup melting into your skin

and dripping onto your shoes.


Your laces were untied,

and you thought the whole way home

what would have happened

if they had chased you.


You think about the fact

that you didn’t see

the catcaller from the bench

or how he had stood to watch

you and your friends run.


You walk your friend to her class

across campus

because you’re all scared

that he’ll

come back.


Your body seizes when you see

a man and you think to yourself

What will happen

if he speaks?


You hurry home and the counselors

file a police report,

and you watch a movie

with your friends

to pretend nothing was wrong,

nothing happened.


You’re shamed for being scared,

for feeling threatened

when his words followed you







For being terrified when

you thought the other men were him.

The friends that felt it,

the shock and the fear;

they shut up because,

“it happens everywhere”.


You shove the panic and the shame down because,

“It’s normal”.


And you try not to think about the intense

fear that has developed

to walk downtown again.


I was catcalled for the first time today.

The kind of catcall that


your perception of the world.


The kind of catcall

that makes you thankful that

you’re not a woman yet.


“They’re girls”.


But our age didn’t stop them,

our group didn’t stop them,

our clothes didn’t encourage them.


All we wanted was ice cream.

Instead, we became women.


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