The Don’t Hit Me Dance

by H. E. Casson
(CW: Child abuse, violence)

It was a hopping from one leg
To the other
In front of mother
A hop-hop
Muscles tensed
I sensed her anger
Stand as I can
Taking it like a fully grown man
But beforehand
My performance
My only chance
The don’t hit me dance
(I gave it that name
In remembrance)

And the partner
The parent
That sent me ahead
The tensing
The dread that began with the words
Get the yardstick
The ruler
The wooden spoon
And wait for me
In your room

What caused the dance
Was the game in my mind
That wanted to run
And to leave it behind
But knowing my size
And my age
And relation
Prevented me
From leaving my station
Beside the bed
With the dance in my head
And the stick in my hand
She would use on me

I would do the dance in public places
When she would show one of the faces
Wait till we get home
Wait till I have you all alone
And anger
Hid behind the stare
Of righteousness
And only this
Defense I had been given
To dance
And keep on living

Originally published in Fireweed in 2002.

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