Here Is The Mark Of The Girl
Rooned! she said. Rooned, rooned, rooned! and her mother, coming off her chair, or from the cupboards, begged her to calm down, to speak the word truly, as it was meant to be said. Ru–ined. The girl’s lips wouldn’t taste it. Girl left the bench, stormed outside, to a small bump in the front yard where she bent to lift the garden hose that was at her feet. She was tired of the rehearsal, the metronome. Surely, she thought she could take something else, this or any garden object, to yank and yank, to follow her around and speak her will. Why couldn’t she wet all this ground, like a man, and make any space ripe with her want?
The word was a whole house, Drawn out by vowel And disaster. Rooned, The word was a whole life
Endangered, Enchanted. To be rooned, To be woman wasn’t A choice; it was a
Befalling, was risky Arrival to this land, Fleshed with want, Flushed with god.
She imagined herself Losing their love, Then losing the victim’s Vision. But the curse of self
Was handsome And the wringing her hands Of her own wrong Doing would be great.
What she inherited, she Polluted. There was Her obsession with language, Of mother’s mother’s
Mothering tongue, of so much Matriarch, of so many Church-going voices lecturing Blah blah blah no
Children out of wedlock, Saying this to the girls As if to make marriage A wanted status, chain
And lock or roon. The word Was a whole chorus, And she ever-teetering Towards it, plotted her fall
Between the organ keys That tickled her acolyte sleeve, Loud toll of their worst nightmare. She dared dig in, cajole the
Perversion. Rooned, a whole Nation away from god, No other America Understanding the way
This region lived, And how she buttered Her hands in its dirt Slightly saved,
Slightly suicidal. She was a rooning girl. Sin balanced on her Lips like memory work,
And she held the pewter Baby, a messiah In her hand, sang a hymn, While brushing the red-
Tipped pages of her Hymnal, that so many days Of Christian acceptance Had blessed her with.
Sundays she rose From bed, legs shaking As she walked towards The sanctuary, her muscles
Full of becoming Sexual desire. She felt The congregation open Its mouth to say Thanks
Be to God, as she pulled At the wad of white Tights that’d gone Loose around her crotch,
Felt how life in this church, In a woman’s body, Would always be a-fidget, A failing. She straightened
Her back, having interpreted The mother’s look. For them, she must always be Waiting but also very ready
To give. As she followed The goers down the aisle, Swallowed the body, the blood, As she, walking primly, understood
The contortion her frame Must make to live the righteous Pain of ceremony, She felt the blister
That had been heaving there, In the back pew of her shoe, Go taut and pop. Rooned, The word, her whole parable.
Carrie Chappell is a writer, editor, educator, and translator. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Carrie is interested in exploring feminine personae and the narration of lives of women as they confront a conflicting nostalgia for and injury perpetuated by Western structures of prejudice, particularly those apparent in her homeland of the U.S. American South. Some of her poetry has been published in Harpur Palate, Nashville Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, SWWIM, and Yemassee. Currently, she lives in Paris, France, and serves as Poetry Editor for Sundog Lit.