Imagine that baby gently placed in front of you
in her crib, the baby that you would wake up
multiple times a night to check that she was still
breathing. Tell her you called her a bitch
because you loved her, because it was what’s best
for her, because she needed to learn. Tell her.
Now count her ten fingers and ten toes,
then her ten fingernails and ten toenails,
and count how many times you will punch a hole
in the wall right by her head. Count how many times
you will grab her wrist and tell her how disgusting she is.
Pick her up reverently and tell her, that you were just so so angry.
That you couldn’t control yourself. That you’re sorry.
Gently rock her back in forth. You are so sorry sorry
so sorry so sorry so sorry so sorry, you tell her every night.
As if an eight year old is meant to absolve you of your sins,
and tucking her into bed was confession. No, go find a priest.
Go find a therapist. Go find god or gardening, please just
fucking go find it. Better yet, actually try looking.
You will be the only one to find your reconciliation.
She will not give it to you. Now place your baby back into the
crib and lay your hand on where her little heart beats.
Dig your nails into her chest until she bruises and remind her
that it will be all her fault when you have a heart attack as a result
of stress. Walk away. Dim the lights. Walk away now from
that baby in that crib that you love oh so much, that you just
had to do these things. And then turn around before shutting
the door to yell that she is so selfish for wanting to stop her own heart.
She will try to explain to you why and because the answer is “you”,
you stop listening. Refuse to change. She will believe you are
capable of change until the day she dies, but she has stopped
hoping that you will. She plants herself in the empty beer can you hid,
and grows instead.
Mary Kate McGrath (also known as Em or Emy) is a Sociology student at a tiny college in Pennsylvania. Em prefers the pronouns they/them/their. The name “Em” comes from the refusal to be called “MK” but conceding with just “M." Em volunteers as a crisis hotline responder. They have been writing since around the age of 13. They hope to have children in the form of pigs someday.