Mother whips across the hips
with bamboo cane
from shelf up so high.
With dancing legs, try
to block with fingertips…
Who could be
making that porcine squeal?
Not I, surely not I.

Father bemoans
with sticks and stones;
uses heavy-handed slaps
to still me.
Throw a shoe, perhaps,
even two…
Stay on your knees, damn it!
Who said you could talk?
You disappoint me.

Teacher, preacher,
with metal ruler, strike her
 across the back of the knees.
Or deviate,
with ruler quite straight -
cut her pink cuticles
right down to the quick.

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
how does your childhood go?
With dancing legs,
torn cuticles and fingertips,
She… Or is it I? Or we?
Day-by-day, we’ll grow.

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