Shame On You

By Kelly Grace Thomas


I can't remember the exact day I invited Shame

onto the playground

to play with me,

crooked pigtails and torn green dress.

I must have been sunny

I couldn’t bear the weight of another rainy day cliché.


Shame and I navigated the jungle

gym of our relationship.

First down the slide,

a slippery spiral where I struggled for control.

Next, it pushed me on the swings,  

that taunting tug of war, convincing me to run away.

Lastly, we climbed onto the seesaw

My knees knocked with fear

because even at seven I saw it as an oversized scale.

Dark parts of me cracked.

We climbed on



that caught up

in the

ups and downs

Shame had the heavier end.

For once the chubby kid, felt beautiful.

I hadn’t considered that fact, it was my fault

 I had fed it for so long.


It nibbled on the whispers of kids in the cafeteria line

so I gave away my cookies.

It hung in the French closet doors of princess painted bedroom

so I asked my mom to buy me a different dress.

It played basketball on the blacktop outside at recess

so I choose dodge ball instead.

I thought these sacrifices would somehow unchain me.


From that day on

I was never

seen without my Shame.

It stuck underneath my clothes in the

balmy parts of August.

It rubbed between my thighs creating

its rash of blame.

It finished all my sentences in awkward conversations

Instead of periods, it offered apologies.



Didn’t anyone see it follow

the child who spilled the glue,

wanting only wanted to make a macaroni necklace for her mom?

Didn’t someone one wonder if it was safe

to let a ski-masked stranger into a room where kids came to dream? 

No one questioned the first step closer or part where it climbed on top of us

demanding its piggyback ride of insecurity.

Because in a small town we all have a cousin or sister who looks just like Shame.

The Shame that sits on our porch, or behind the steering wheels of staled out cars.

The Shame that soaks in bathtubs sobbing or falls asleep in front of a television turned on for company.

The nuvea artichtects of monogrammed prisions.


It gives a new meaning to

shame on you.

All my life,

 I think.

All my life.