The Child Can Speak | A Poem, On Two Feet

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And I felt you watch me.

You waited for my decomposition.

You took part in it, directed it

And yet, despite all of your efforts,

I stood up with bruises on my knees

And broken bones and a heart that skipped beats,

And succeeded, I found refuge within me,

Found revolt in my body, found my voice

In my spirit, I didn’t abandon myself in the darkness

You shoved me into.

You wanted me to endure what you endured,

Live in constant pain and fury and disappointment.

You made sure of that every step of the way.

Neglect, carelessness, lack of everything.

And you resent me for everything that I overcame,

For making it through your hurdles, your minefield,

For coming out of you alive and with a sense of humour,

That’s the worst part, isn’t it?

That I can still laugh without faking it?

Everything I had to outweigh your body and your silence

Was my language, I speak, father, I am language,

My body is language and I open my mouth to reveal

Who you are to me. Set you free, set myself free,

Rid myself of lessons taught,

You taught me one thing, I learned another.

You wanted me quiet and submissive.

Your unbuckled belt wavering,

Oh, you know better than to beat me,

Don’t you, I’ve taught you not to,

At some point your hands came across fire

When they approached my body and then you

Tormented me mind to mind.

I depended on you and you loved it.

You, the provider of goods,

The withdrawal of goods, the lack, the curses, the judgement

And punishment. You threaten.

And I wait for you by the side of the road.

I see you in men who pull their cocks out.

Reveal themselves to anyone who smiles.

You taught me not to smile,

Not to look at men, at boys, because then they

Would think that I wanted sex, that my face was an open

Invitation, subject object, you turn everything on its head,

Right, father, everything turned around,

Everything I did, I wanted, I initiated,

My blame, my shame, my responsibility, my fucked-up nature.

And I did respond to you as a child.

Where did I come from, father?

You washed yourself shameless and I was kneeling below you

With my mouth open, receiving your sins, receiving your vices.

Devilchild, deranged girl, she needs to see someone,

She’s not normal, you escaped, and I was painted scarlet red.

I acted the way you taught me and you withdrew your pride

In the open light where everyone could be fooled.

That’s what you’re so good at, fooling everyone who claims

To adore you and who you mock and judge relentlessly.

They don’t get that you’re a trap, that you eat with an appetite,

That you take what you don’t deserve until you’re full

For a moment and we are empty dreading nightfall.

“A Young Patrician Lady” by Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519)

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