Quite Contrary

“Mary, Mary, quite contrary, how does your garden grow?” 

I walk through town clutching The Secret Garden and thinking about Mary and Colin and Dickon (I always wished I had been named Mary), while the whispers float around me like bubbles I want to pop but are always just out of reach.

“That Molly-girl’s a little touched if you know what we mean,” they say. I hear them and they say it.

Do they know what they mean? Do they mean touched by the hand of God with something special, or by the hand of someone’s (handsome or not, what does it matter?) big sweating grunting dripping handful of a swollen something special? Do they even know the difference? Is there a difference?

(Well there is a difference. One doesn’t mean anything, nothing. The other means everything. It is an invasion of everything you are by everything someone else is.)

I walk through town clutching The Secret Garden and thinking of Mary and Colin and Dickon. I stop where the sign says stop. The streets are grey and empty and the sky is grey and empty, and then a car, bright and red, screams by and “Slut!” is thrown out the window and right at me.  The pitcher is Sally Buckley. Her face is contorted with contempt.

Her dad fucked me when my mom was his girlfriend.

It was only once, but he could change, he begged my mother.

Only once.

Once is a ghost. Once can haunt. Once is endless in that space where once lives.


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