By | 15 September 2022

It was the softness that caught her.
Consent they taught at school, t
brought down like a gate. You say no,
you say yes – little, pliant words, daisy
petals yielding to touch. It was how you
spoke it
, they said. She tried shaping
a syllable that it might hold every
possible present, every ending. Yes
like ironed bunting, determined on
sunshine. No like a gunshot from a
steady hand. In Italian you said si,
your mouth smiling in spite of itself.
In French, your smile drooped: si
to disagree, si with a non in your heart.
There had been a baby once, Aunt Mary
said, so small they lined a drawer with
cotton wool for fear she might be lost.
Yes and no like drawers: you choose left,
you choose right. Yes and no like cotton
wool, pulled into wisps, into other shapes
entirely. Yes and no like your body blooming,
pillowy with open-ended syllables.

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