by, Karena Dorsey
Puss and Blood
And you still hold down the button
Metal pinches and pulls until you get every drop to fill your bucket
The cost for a pint of milk
How is that gonna feed the family
And you boomerang me to pay in my worth
I count aloud in tenths, holding my head high, in the face of snickers, bitterness, and sharp fingers for the wild flowers.
Red stains upon green pastures
You taste fruit from my tree that is unripe to eat
Smiling you tell me one day I can own my freedom
Who told you my roots belonged to you
I shake violently
So all parts of me that you take fall to the ground
Dormant for a season
You try to keep a blaze to your fire by burning my broken branches
Yellow stains are in the snow
And to keep me from dehydrating you offer me a scoop in a crystal glass
I was the egg fertilized in the wild chicken brought to a coup
Who could live with one from her dozen being cracked.
And you dare to lick the fluid over me.
I spread my wings, being dried, and take towards floating on my horizon
You push traps at my feet
Asking the devil to sleep in my substance
Sending those that love me away
Tricking me into believing that the ground is safer than the sky
Even God is here you swear
Even then I know better because she is sleep in my substance
Waiting for my command to Rise UP!
People like you chop a rainforest of trees down to say you have a seat at the solid table
Needs souled out to desires
And only I find it hard to breathe here
“Ye Daughters, beware of Super Novas”, I hear my ancestor say
Then something turns the lights off
Blinded and hallucinating Mama believed in the illusion
And still I became the ONE that grows
He made me wish my period never came. His fondling before was just to loosen the lock. He knew I stood alone unprotected and separated from everything and everyone that loved me or I loved. His hands were rubbing them now.
I opened my eyes. The blue walls were a lot to take in. Their king-sized bed took up most of the space. I could see my silhouette in the mirror on the closet to my left. The large window behind me with blue vertical blinds shielding the light of the world from invading this heavy and dark place where secrets and demons dwelled. Hermitage street was filled with homes and no one knew what was happening. I closed my eyes again.
“How does it feel?” He asked, withdrawing his mouth from my nipple. He loosened the grasp of his ashy palms groping my breast. They were the breasts of a young woman. A fourteen years young woman. In another culture I could be married and made a mother but not by a man who I called father. I watched him through the mirror caressing my round hip and tender thigh as he looked to my eyes for a response.
I stood, emotion unmasked, physically withdrawn and mentally disgusted. Over the years I learned how to say what’s best but I did not know how to answer him then. I wish I ran out of the house naked, exposing what was being covered.
I felt acid accelerating toward my tonsils. Quickly I pushed it back down with one forced swallow. The sour taste in my mouth overpowered the church candy dissolving on my tongue- a starlight mint. My biological father’s mother used to keep them in my pocket book when I spent weekends at her home. One of the teachers from school had some on her desk. I took a few and just when I untwisted the clear plastic on each end to enjoy my moment he yelled for my name.
“Kaaaaarena!” And minutes later I was there, my candy gone, my clothes off, and he was doing stuff to me again. He was a sack of dog shit you step in while walking through your yard where you own no animals – foul beyond the funk.
His dark eyes glimmered in lust. I was nervous.
“I hate it!” I wiped my sweating palms together as my lips closed.
Wrinkles appeared between his eyebrows. I could not think of something better to say.
From the edge of their bed he commanded, “Lay on here and open your legs. Maybe this will be better for you.” He was straight faced like a poker player.
The soles of my bare feet abandoned the carpeted floors. I fixed my sight on the ceiling. Two characteristics of it reminded me of myself. The rotating blades of its fan, like my life, was spinning in cycles controlled by others to please their desires. And like the color of its paint my spirit was blue.
During wrestling night we would gather in this room, me clinging to a spot on the floor, near the corner foot of the bed. I hated these fake family nights. I hated the confusion I felt within myself. I hated this room, him, and my silence. I hated her for not doing something the first and only time I told her he touched me. I hated my life.
The fan let off free, breezing, cool ‘whooshes’ while I lied tense on dark sheets. He spread my legs and bent my knees with his cocoa powder hands, putting me in the position a woman’s in when preparing for a pap smear or childbirth.
After staring at me for what felt like too long he pushed the tip of his finger on my clitoris.
“Do you want to know what this is?”
“No.” I was honest.
He ran his finger down my vaginal lips and used a second one to separate them.
“Are you sure no ones touched you here?” His voice felt like a stone in a dry cave in
“Yes.” I turned my head to face the clock, and blinked back my eyes before they filled.
“Don’t what me.”
“Cough! If no one’s touched you here I should see something that I don’t see.”
I cleared my throat.
He looked closer while keeping his fingers where they were.
“I don’t know. Maybe I don’t know how to see it but I’m going to find out if you did something in Texas.”
“The deal is 10 minutes always you said.” Whenever he decided to put me on the bed he told me that if I did not ‘cum’ he would stop and let me go.
I sealed my eyes shut cringing as he began to rub my clitoris in circular motions. I knew the time and wished it would move faster.
My vagina felt like the surface of a wooden, unfinished baseboard. There was no pleasure here. What was happening wasn’t right and finally the final minute passed.
I moved to rise up.
He stood and pointed towards the bed again. “Lay back down!”
I do not know why I did, but I did.
“Does this feel better?” Confidence brightened his voice. Scents of bile and sewer carried his words into stale air. The image in my mind of his nails bitten to flesh disgusted me. Those were the hands that were supposed to teach me and guide me in every way a father teaches and guides his daughter. Instead they stayed in my mind as a bias, like a child raised by a passionate Ku Klux Klansman for a father. I judged every man I would encounter from then on who had nails like his.
Becoming impatient I maintained a calm tone, “I don’t like this at all.”
Curved creases appeared by the corners of his wide mouth. Thin lips showed a smirk of enlightenment after forty or so uncomfortable seconds of silence.
“Do you want me to kiss you there?”
I watched his thin, ashy finger point towards my entrance. I wanted to just die. In that moment I had no idea what his plan was. I felt panicked, wondering if he was going to take this into something new. My eyes adjusted to take in his long, oval rust colored face. His eyes were lash-less, eyebrows barely visible. Another trait I could never settle with in a man because no eyebrows and lash-less eyes remind me of the bare ugliness I endured.
“Can I just get dressed?”
Gravity welcomed his mouth, engaging in a pouty lower lip. He was obese and looked stupid. His hands cupped his face, and then slammed into his lap. I hoped he wouldn’t do more then he did and for once my hopes mattered to something beyond what appeared.
Standing at five feet and some inches and weighing around one-hundred and thirty pounds I swiftly approached my clothes at the foot of the bed. I pulled them over my skin, anxious to leave the room.
I masked my pain from this abuse every day although it made me feel cursed. If someone would have told me these obstacles would later show me that without them I could not have walked the path that would teach me to live purposefully I would not have believed them.
He never looked directly at me when I put my clothes back on. I felt his dark eyes watching me through the closet mirror. I wanted it to break and shatter over his head.
As my hand twisted the lock to open the wooden door Eddie, my mother’s pimp, and father to my siblings, opened his mouth.
“You’re beautiful Karena.”
It did not feel like a compliment. And every time, for a long time, when a man would say it, it felt the same way. It was an opening to a justification to infringe on my body, on having me without being capable of the responsibility that having me comes with.
I prayed. The way my father’s mother showed me how, from my heart and in my mind. And although it never seemed to work I always did it. When he came to my room I did it. Before I went to rest I did it. In their room I did it. I thought the creator was just not there for me. We never see a design that we didn’t create until the blueprint is complete.
Silence fell over the room. He was never consistent. I hoped he didn’t change his mind.
I stretched my neck, tilting my head, to fight back my emotions and turned on my heels slowly, without letting go of the twisted doorknob.
I could see him smiling at me and I couldn’t understand why.
I had not told my grandmother the extent of his abuse. She knew it was physical from my running away before. Grandma Dorsey shared with me after I ran away that she once had custody of when I was five because my face suffered from 2nd or 3rd degree burns that I told a case worker he caused. Upon their investigation they made a decision to keep me with her until my mother left him. She did leave, found a place, and moved us back with him after the state followed up and closed the case. After all the back and forth, I was again his plot standing now as a girl transitioning into womanhood. And he needed to say something to me after everything he did.
He began his repetitive speech. And I felt relieved knowing the worst was over for now.
“I just tested you again.” He needed to assure himself of reason to validate his lust, giving it merit in the laws of his manhood for the sake of his own sanity.
“I know you’re getting up there in age. I hope you remember everything I do to you. I’m teaching you so you know-” Three long creases appeared like sea waves across his flat forehead. His lips parted slightly each time he fought to breathe, revealing his white, chicklet shaped teeth. Every clean smile is not genuine and every smiling person is not trustworthy I learned from growing up with him. He thought of how to make logic of the transgression.
“I’m teaching you so you know what to say when some other man who doesn’t give a fuck about you shows you he wanted to fuck you. So you know how to handle it when the time comes. You know Karena?”
Our eyes locked. I wished I could fire bullets between my blinks. And reload and send them until he was no more!
“You aren’t different from those young hoes out there.”
I stood as he ranted his normal rant. My mouth was dry. I felt angry and wary all at once.
I watched his hand stretch out towards the window where he twisted a thin, cylinder shaped stick. The room lit up and I adjusted my stance knowing that soon I’d be able to leave. I scanned the room before shifting my vision towards his fingers. He brought them to rub a streak of gray in his mustache. His nails bitten to flesh stood out again.
“Thirteen, fucking, and having babies. That little bitch on the corner could be you.”
He was speaking about my old babysitter.
“The most precious thing a woman has to offer a man is her pussy, but you ain’t got to worry about giving it to some nigga who don’t care about you while you’re living here cause you ain’t allowed no boyfriends until you’re 18 and grown.”
The age changed as I grew older, from 15, to 16, and now 18. I didn’t even care to have a boyfriend. I just wanted to get out of the room then.
“Arrr, Arrre, Arreee we clear?” My siblings and I would laugh behind his back about his sprinkle stuttering.
“Yes, sir.” I looked down to avoid him. I just wanted to go. I knew my sister was wondering why I was in the room so long and had been listening for evidence of one of the beatings I told her I was getting when in there.
He scooted his fat ass backwards and waved. “Get out of my face.”
Without thought I did.
A few months later he convinced my mother to send me to have my first appointment with a gynecologist at Magee Women’s Hospital. He was convinced, upon my return back to my mother’s guardianship from Dallas, Texas that I lost my virginity. I had not. But the doctor with the degree broke my skin with a cold, metal specula during her examination. She, my mother, and I, afterward, sat in her office.
“She still has pieces of her skin there and everything is fine. “
My mother thanked her.
I looked at her, my face still blush and eyes puffy from my tears, hoping that he died in the same way that she just killed a part of me, because once you pluck a flower it can never live again.