When the men came to speak to my father
I was sent out into the garden.
I could hear the cold hissing in the cracks
of the concrete,
could feel its boldness,
how it longed to slip between my edges.
Hands buzzing like wasps,
I practised my skipping, counted steps,
the lash of the rope
on my calves only right,
I looked out of my eyes
at the crumble-bricked wall,
the white rose
blooming still. Then
I rose up in the air and looked down
As if I were the Angel in the painting, hovering.
As if I were the Virgin crouched in a heap in the corner.
the straight white scar of my parting,
saw my bunches bounce,
above white socks. The fear
a series of yellow wavy lines
zigging from the dog-tooth
check of my duffle coat.
The smell of it nettles, the smell of it cat’s piss.
My father was in that room
alone with those men
with only my mother to protect him.
I did the only thing I could do –
my back to the French windows,
my arms raised out like wings.