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/carrie chappell

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. Ruined. 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.

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