I can sense it coming: the second I do something
that brings you displeasure.
For want of cliché, I see your face grow dark. Your mouth
becomes taut. I feel the pressure
in my tight little tummy.
I cast around quick for what I’ve done wrong.
Was it my socks that were too separate?
Bedroom too scruffy? Homework left undone?
Or was it my breathing that annoyed you so.
You couldn’t bear noise
when you had one of your heads.
The tiptoeing I did gave me fabulous pointes,
to the stage I could walk without leaving a sound.
But what stretched the bow
to the arrow of your aim
was your tut and your sigh
like the end of world was nigh
just cos I’d pulled out my ribbon
or opened the curtains wrong.
Your rage would instantly shut out
any view that would challenge your own.
You felt the right and the need to shout
at those who needed you most.
A sigh could be on its own
but a tut would precede 7, 8, 9
and then 10. The scariest number of all,
said in the slowest of ways
as a countdown to lash out and hit
if I didn’t shape up, pipe down and sit.
And so to hear your sigh, years after the first
when I haven’t done exactly
as your vision dictates,
a terror strikes the heart of me,
takes my thighs
as my confidence vibrates.
I have no memory of what it was like
but I sense it in faces who see me with spite.
I hear it in their tut
I shudder with their sigh.
I hope this memory is a healing goodbye.