eyes big as an ostrich egg
married at eight
widowed at ten
sharpens her alphabets
the bricks on the attic wall her slate
as soon as they've been written
in between the cracks of the floors
for the sound of her eyes
flipping the pages of her father's books
do not wish your daughters her fingertips
in the middle of a page
keep your daughters away
lest they write down
what you're sweeping away.
Mother, lock your kitchen doors.
Your daughter isn't safe.
Blisters on her palm.
Blood. Pus. Broken skin.
Pretty maiden washes rice.
These blackened skillets on the sink.
These half-eaten mangoes. Un-chewed chicken bones.
Not enough. Pretty maiden scrubs.
And scrubs the pots. Sucks the blood.
Out of little girl tongues.