Sestina about Ear Piercings

First published in Blue Marble

What is a girl who has not bled 

thrice through her punctured skin? Hear

me when I say that bullet holes 

hurt less than the needle, though the flesh

taken is the same. The animal

will not hesitate to choose its pleasure over pain. A girl 

is not so lucky. What is a girl 

who has not leaked salt and blood

to worship the flesh of a man? 

A man once held a gun to my ear, 

told me to count back from three, punctured my flesh 

at two. My mouth made a small hole

and he popped a whole

piece of candy through my lips. To be a girl

is to learn to love your flesh 

as you lose it. I sat on his lap afterwards as I bled,

his fingers soft in my mouth. My ears

were white-hot centres of pain. I was trembling like an animal.

But what is a girl who has foregone these animal 

pains. To be a girl is to be a hellhole 

in your own flesh, loving and leaving your body as your ear

gnaws into itself. For days afterwards, the girl

refuses to be touched, she sobs each time they try. To bleed

can be a gesture of sacrifice or murder, but the flesh

taken is the same. & what is a girl who was not purest that day? Fleshed

out, blood and pus dripping from her like an animal? 

Whose mothers do not hold her down as she bleeds,

clasping her mouth shut when the hole 

is made? Whose hands will not hold down other girls, 

as the bullet burrows into the raw flesh of the ear? 

What is a girl who has not pierced her ear. 

Who has been selfish with her flesh,

holding onto it, as if it is hers. Doesn’t she know, to be a girl 

is always a tragedy that ends with an animal 

piercing through her girlhood. To be whole 

is to have nothing with you that’s worth keeping. To have bled 

it all out. Here is an ear. Pierce it like an animal.

The flesh lost is the same, be it needles or bullet holes. 

Remember: to have been a girl is always to have been bled. 


Photo by Christof Görs on Unsplash


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