by Mel Pettitt

My mother taught me to bleed
based on the instructions of my grandmother–
she made sure I might never forget.
My daughters’ birthdays hurt like bee stings.

He says I am ugly, which is why
he wanted to touch me, my breasts swollen
unchristian things, and painful; there was darkness
wrapped inside my apology.

                                                                   (my sex)

He looked upon my girls, who slept.
He said they sleep as buds sleep, those carved nubs
which only flower bright
in funeral dress. I paid for anaesthetics.

Cut a little deeper, I told him, cut high
up into the beds in their hard round bellies,
cut, for if it hurts enough I heard
you might find Him, deep, deeper…


On a small pink pad – like a petal, you said –
He’ll wait, for the only explanation is the paradise
you’re trying to extract, entering
my little cubs in hard neat slits.

If you find Him, tell Him to come to me.
Tell Him I’m sorry. Tell Him He’s wet my appetite –
I want to be a fruit, or foam on the sea,
I want, I want, I want…

                                                            (they bleed)