For me the bell tolls

at 6 in the evening
mother should collect me from class
that ended at 5 for others
in that extra hour my English teacher taught me more
than I could speak

I learned that being below sixteen
No longer means you can’t say yes
but not even no

I learned his address, the path to his door
where neighbours can’t see, the colour of his sheets,
to count buttons on his shirt.
I learned how haste can stick a zip
how thunderous breaths blow even the longest skirts off
I learned how long I could hold mine
how tight hands can grip
small necks, small waists, growing breasts and thighs

I’ve learned that the body of an hourglass is filled with sand
because it was made
to bury men
to be dead
and be buried
and if he were to read my pulse as a time
I’d be a whore past 5 and nothing else

At the bottom of that hourglass is a girl
and when all the sand piles on her belly, she is out of time

this was my first time being in a man’s yard
I hope Touch-me-nots bloom where I sleep

{I will be resting where the Touch-me-nots bloom
For if girls could speak words from flowers on their graves
I wonder how many men could escape shame}

Demoy Lindo is a Clarendon-born poet who was selected as the Young Poet Laureate for Jamaica 2020, winner of the Helen Zell writer’s award.