Indoctrination, 1972
by Paula J. Lambert

You were their leader, that gang of boys, that tangle of freckles
and wide-striped shirts. You chose a girl and they chased her down,

pinning her arms and legs while you kissed her, quick, on the lips.
On the day they caught me, I felt a word I couldn’t name explode

in my chest. I kicked and scratched at all those hands, those fingers
now losing their grip. You kept coming, leaning in while I lurched away,

until finally letting out a disgusted sigh: This one’s too much trouble.
Let her go. It was second grade, St. Anthony’s school, and the church

loomed, straight and serious, over the playground. At its entrance,
two tall fir trees shivered in the breeze, whispering, laughing.

PHOTOGRAPH: The author with crooked pigtails in her second grade school photograph.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paula J. Lambert is the author of The Sudden Seduction of Gravity (Full/Crescent Press, 2012) and The Guilt That Gathers (Pudding House, 2009). A residency artist for the Ohio Arts Council Arts Learning Program, she has published her work in numerous journals and anthologies. She is a past recipient of an OAC Individual Artist Fellowship and was a resident fellow at the Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Her MFA is from Bowling Green State University. Lambert currently resides in Dublin, Ohio, with her husband Michael Perkins, with whom she operates Full/Crescent Press, a small but growing independent publisher of poetry books and broadsides.