Good girl

Gentle hairsmell, special rosy skinsmell. Nose on cotton
bosom. One big arm under legs, one around back.
Going upstairs. ‘Time for ni-ni’s now.’ Pushing the high
white door. Walking across the blue floor.

There’s Teddy in the corner.
There’s pink blanket.
There’s the white bars.

laying me down; snugging Teddy in; lighting nightlight
with its funny moon; darking big light. ‘Ni-ni.’

putting shoes by the door. No
getting woolballs and needles. No
sitting in the rockety chair, rocking and clicking and humsinging
silly old songs —

walking away!


‘Ssh. Ni-ni big girl.’
The door shuts. Click.
Shoe clunk clunk-clunk
corridor, clunk-creak
stairs, quieter,


I stand up, wobbling on the squishy bed, holding the bars.
‘Mum-mum!’ Come back! ‘Mum-mum!’ I’m not safe!
‘Mum-mum!’ Come back! ‘Mum-mum! Mum-mum!’ I love you!

The funny moon. The dark. The bars in my fists.
A wave breaks over me and I cry.
I cry — I cry — I cry — hurty-loud — scary-loud —
no mum-sound — no mum-shape — no mum-breath — no mum-smell —
how long?
I cry until I’m shaking
and melting
and hating all over
and all in pieces
and curled up tight
and nowhere
and my tears are dried up
and my throat hurts

and then I see.
I have to do this by myself.

I bite Teddy hard and suck his ear.

I dream of mum-scent and falling.

Next nighttime, after kisses, I don’t
say ‘mum-mum’. I suck Teddy’s ear. I bite his paw.
The funny moon. The dark. There are shapes in it. The bars
by my face. I shut my eyes. There are shapes in it.

The dark-time is a black space, far, far, I can’t see the end,
and without any songs, and I
have to go it
by myself.

I don’t cry out.
I shut myself tight.
Go away. Go away.
Don’t touch me!

‘Good girl,’ she says.