Pre-Cyber Bullying

We didn’t call it bullying back then,
and cyber was a word relegated to sci-fi
movies. Manipulation was fierce and had a face,
teased bangs frozen in place with shellac,
earrings that touched shoulders. She wasn’t pretty,
just a farm girl with lenient parents
and a dildo she used on her friends, openly
discussed with whoever would listen.
These were the days of Purple Rain
and Prince. We were all screwing, but slut
was determined not by how many had been
inside, but by whose boyfriend was. Men
were recycled like plastic bottles among the same
group of girls, bitches who bragged in hallways,
leaning against lockers, scowling at their victims.
There was no Facebook, no status
to update. Walls to write on existed in the realm of real,
bathroom stalls where we hid with hall passes,
smoking during trig. You knew if the marker was aimed
at you because attacks were direct and used names,
no hiding behind esoteric postings, heavy
with the burden of implication, or in print
in the school newspaper, end of year senior bequests
coded with references to nights of escape
through windows, one-way portals into darkness
back seats of idling cars with headlights
turned off. Men from the city came
to use girls whose eyes were still closed
to their purpose. However tough, they were
hopeful they might be loved by someone whose hands
were smoother than their fathers’, whose defeat
would not press so hard on their hopes
for a future that did not include locked bedroom doors
and mothers’ scorn.