I can’t let you see me.
And they were all celebrating while I bled.
Don’t look at me, not there.
We were dressed like dolls, toyed with,
Dark-skinned Barbies, just babies when,
Gems glittering, can’t distract from tears,
She made the cut.
Not down there, I know it’s why I came,
But please, not now.
They’re singing in the courtyard,
Shrill ululations echo, my scream unheard.
You’re not listening either,
My presence in your office permission enough.
I’m screaming, ‘Don’t touch,’ but nothing comes out.
Take off your dress, she said, and you say it too.
I can still smell the perfume, even as you disinfect your hands.
Lie down, she said. I lie, your bed an invitation, curtains drawn.
Open your legs like a good girl, she said.
You stand and wait for me to open my legs,
But I’ve been cut before.
I push down the skirt.
Not now, I say, I can’t. I’ll book again.
And on the street I can hear sirens screaming for me.
The bride price is high.
Your invoice arrives, despite my refusal.