Ode to the Boy Who Jumped Me

By Monica Sok
You and your friend stood 
on the corner of the liquor store
as I left Champa Garden, takeout in hand, on the phone 
with Ashley who said, 
That was your tough voice.I never heard your tough voice before
I gave you boys a quick nod, 
walked E 21st past dark houses. Before I could reach the lights 
on Park, you criss-crossed 
your hands around me,like a friend and I’d hoped 
that you were Seng, 
the boy I’d kissed on First Friday in October. He paid for my lunch 
at that restaurant, split the leftovers. 
But that was a long time ago and we hadn’t spoken since, 
so I dropped to my knees 
to loosen myself from your grip, my back to the ground, I kicked 
and screamed but nobody 
in the neighborhood heard me, only Ashley on the other line, 
in Birmingham, where they say 
How are you? to strangers not what I said in my tough voice
but what I last texted Seng, 
no response. You didn’t get on top, you hovered. My elbows banged 
the sidewalk. I threw 
the takeout at you and saw your face. Young. More scared 
of me than I was of you. 
Hands on my ankles, I thought you’d take me or rape me. 
Instead you acted like a man 
who slipped out of my bedand promised to call: 
You said nothing. 
Not even what you wanted.
Copyright © 2020 by Monica Sok. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 20, 2020, by the Academy of American Poets.

“After this incident I asked myself: What is it like to feel safe, seen, and heard all at once and all the time? In this poem, I wove two complex experiences together (getting jumped/being ghosted), while considering the layers of silence in both. I wrote this as an ode, not to praise the boy who jumped me but to directly address him, to let him know that I saw him that night even when he could not see me.”
Monica Sok
Monica Sok (photo by Nicholas Nichols
Monica Sok is the author of A Nail the Evening Hangs On (Copper Canyon Press, 2020). She is a 2018-2020 Wallace Stegner Fellow in Poetry at Stanford University and lives in Oakland, California.

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