Tuesday, November 6, 2018

Cutting Teeth

"Cutting Teeth" by Syreeta Muir

*Originally published in Fearless Femme

Her mother met the guy when she was nine. All smiles.
She was relieved to see her mum so happy,
Laughter push the bitter from her eyes.
So at the party when he'd talked to her awhile,
Then lifted her to music,
A stray finger where it shouldn't be.
She didn't scream
Out loud.

Three years on,
The now familiar drive
Past tilled earth and oilseed rape,
Crows that congregate above the tender shoots.
Tarpaulins and telegraph poles
provide escape
Through the orange of her eyelids.
Sweet, humid breezes up neck napes.

Sky wide and benevolent,
She so small beneath.
Her daydreams
Pulled up short as the car slid up their street to the house.
His sour breath and "You two. In."
Whiskey or brandy
How would she know?
But home was the end of revery,
Just the place she cut her teeth.

And life was strangely bland
Egg whites with everything,
Despite the nightly taint.
Even the bitter greens held no nutrition,
Yet she ate it all without complaint.
Docile as a cow turns into beef, all eyes,
But now an anger kindled in her heart as she
Demurely sipped the poison from her plate.

Life became segmented, sorted into quarters.
She took to wandering graveyards, smoking cigarettes.
She couldn't cut her hair,
but she could tell in other ways.
Imagined seeing her words
Etched on the tombstones:
Of all the things you could have said, you said nothing,
And that was somehow worse,
Than all the wrong words you could say.

As she grew her hips
She came to feel the yoke
She realised that if she used her eyes, her ears, her mind,
She could learn to cook.
Prepare her own meals.
Consume them, discern them
And if it looked to make her choke
Dismiss them with a knowing look.
Rapt pupil to a master chef
Turn every lesson into yolk.

16th birthday, decision made.
Plastic bag with everything that mattered, gripped in hand.
As she stepped out,
Heavy sunlight pressed her brow like a Buddha finger.
Released the umbra from the corners of her eyes.
Finally, she claimed the morning,
took it with her to the station.

Syreeta Muir writes poetry, short, and flash fiction with a focus on folklore, nature and trauma. Read her poetry in TL;DR Press, her flash piece 'The Go-between' at horrortree.com and her poem 'Cutting Teeth' in Fearless Femme throughout November. Find her on Twitter as @hungryghostpoet.

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