There are ways that befit a girl; hands on knees, knees together, white socks pulled up to those tight knees, hair banded, tugged back, knees clean. Knees kneel on rough hassock, quiet prayers to the gaunt figure on a cross. Quiet.
You have two ears and only one mouth to be used in proportion. You have a back bottom and a front bottom but it is not seemly to say these words out loud. You have a future. Your future has been appropriated.
That future is kept clean and clear. Each morning you scrub at it with a scouring cloth. Everyone you meet rubs it into your head with their hands. You are God’s daughter. He has plans for you. Your mother has plans for you. There are men in thin suits with plans for you.
Outside the church is gravel and when you act inappropriately, if you run or skip, you fall hard. The gravel takes chunks of flesh from your knees. Skin holes. Blood that is too red runs into white socks. White socks slide down to your ankles. When the man carries you inside he presses his fingers into your front bottom. You cannot mention it. The ointment your mother puts on your raw knees stings and so you cry at that instead. You are not acting like a good brave girl. The plans your mother has for you involve suffering.
You run and skip and fall so that your knees are covered in scabs. Blood stains your socks. Blood stains your knickers. You climb through a window when the owl calls.
When you rub rose-scented cream over your shaved knees you caress the white scars. They are your salvation. They are thorns and whips and nail marks. You have suffered.
You have an arse and a cunt and you use these words often but not just for body parts. Your tongue and lips shape those words with joy.
Their plans for you have changed. You are no longer fit for their purpose. You have a past and a tattoo of an owl on your shoulder. It suits you well.
published 5 March 2016