why I fear a tut and a sigh

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.

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