The German word for dream is traume.

The coal-dust hushed
parameters of the room.
Outside, my mother stitched
whole dresses for $3.00 a piece.
I slept in a bedroom
which faced the street.
A cheerleader was killed
in a drive-by that year.
She died in her sleep.
I watched the headlights
sweep overhead.
It felt like skin.
It did not
feel obscene.
When that boy
tongue-kissed me
and wiped
his mouth,
it was a coming
into knowledge.
When my mother whispered,
Has anyone touched you there?
I had to pick.
Alan, I said.
I was seven.
The training wheels
were coming off.
Between the couch
and wall, the ceiling was white
with popcorn bits. The boys stood
and watched. I lay there,
my eyes open like a doll’s.
Someone said, Let me try.
He pulled down his pants
and rode on top,
then abruptly stopped.
The boys laughed,
said Shhh
and stood me up.

Cathy Linh Che, "The German word for dream is traume" from Split.  Copyright © 2014 by Cathy Linh Che.  Reprinted by permission of Alice James Books,
Source: Split (Alice James Books, 2014)
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