What is a girl who has not bled
thrice through her punctured skin? Hear
me when I say that bullet holes
hurt less than the needle, though the flesh
taken is the same. The animal
will not hesitate to choose its pleasure over pain. A girl
is not so lucky. What is a girl
who has not leaked salt and blood
to worship the flesh of a man?
A man once held a gun to my ear,
told me to count back from three, punctured my flesh
at two. My mouth made a small hole
and he popped a whole
piece of candy through my lips. To be a girl
is to learn to love your flesh
as you lose it. I sat on his lap afterwards as I bled,
his fingers soft in my mouth. My ears
were white hot centres of pain. I was trembling like an animal.
But what is a girl who has foregone these animal
pains. To be a girl is to be a hellhole
in your own flesh, loving and leaving your body as your ear
gnaws into itself. For days afterwards, the girl
refuses to be touched, she sobs each time they try. To bleed
can be a gesture of sacrifice or murder, but the flesh
taken is the same. & what is a girl who was not purest that day? Fleshed
out, blood and pus dripping from her like an animal?
Whose mothers do not hold her down as she bleeds,
clasping her mouth shut when the hole
is made? Whose hands will not hold down other girls,
as the bullet burrows into the raw flesh of the ear?
What is a girl who has not pierced her ear.
Who has been selfish with her flesh,
holding onto it, as if it is hers. Doesn’t she know, to be a girl
is always a tragedy that ends with an animal
piercing through her girlhood. To be whole
is to have nothing with you that’s worth keeping. To have bled
it all out. Here is an ear. Pierce it like an animal.
The flesh lost is the same, be it needles or bullet holes.
Remember: to have been a girl is always to have been bled.
Shreya Vikram is a writer based in India. A Dorothy West Scholar, she has been recognised by the Adroit Prizes for Prose. Her work is forthcoming or has previously appeared in Cobalt Review, Ruminate, GHLL, Salmon Creek Journal and elsewhere. You can find more of her writing at shreyavikram.com