the ritual


The Ritual
Olivia Gatwood
you agree to do it if he lets you lie on your side.
you tell him it hurts less this way.
you tell him you will close your eyes.
you tell him it feels nice. like spooning.
you place your hand on the wall in front of you. when he pushes,
your hand against the wall acts as a cushion for your face.
you have grown accustomed to discovering all of the ways
you can make the pain intangible. unrecognizable.
for instance, preventing a nosebleed.
and so, you are between him and your hand, against the wall
window-shopping for the next room, the front door,
outside, where it is lunchtime and your father is repairing something
on the car you ruined. the boy goes fast and apologizes.
you do not tell him everything you’ve learned.
that this, your body, a small knot and his, in combat, is what you know.
he pulls your hair back from your face
says thank you, i needed that. i’m hungry, let’s eat.

Photo by Mink Mingle on Unsplash