Clara’s song

A Poem

By Juwayriya Bemath

she was four 
her mother wiped her wet cheeks on her oversized sleeve
her brother pushed her bicycle down the winding lane 
her mother wept a lot 
 
she was seven
her teacher clapped
the boys on the playground chased her in merriment
her teacher kept a watchful eye
 
she was eleven
her grandmother locked her inside
the old man next door smiled a jagged smile
her grandmother hid the key
 
she was sixteen
her best friend held her hand to the bathroom
her boyfriend paced angrily
her best friend never left her side
 
she was nineteen
a stranger fetched her from the hospital
her lover would never know
the stranger urged her to keep mum
 
she was twenty two
her husband asked of the scars 
he would never know more than he had to
her husband rocked her gently to sleep
 
she was — however many years old —
but she always had a secret
a fear
a beat
a story
and she quickly realised that’s what living meant;