Two sisters with missing fingers frighten the school off with monster-faced birth defects. One births her father’s child in a CSE lesson, next to the way out. Which one was Paedophile? I ask them. They don’t have many words.
When Paedophile came for tea, he helped himself across the table to all of the girls. Knives and forks stayed in place, Paedophile drooled on the meat. We used gaudy tea-towels to gag the 70’s.
Paedophile, how do you feel in the swimming pool? The girl with the thin legs is there. I tell the woman selling armbands. She never sees the pool as I see it and blows us up until nothing fits. How much will it cost to shout in the pool? No shouting, no diving, no telling, said the woman in armbands with a floating frown.
Little stray girls in a damaged town keep mouthing Paedophile. We found them buried with his frontal brain damage and his talking thump. We bury Paedophile by the TV under a TV dinner. Don’t dig it up, whispered Grandma. I have secrets.
Paedophile was out of sight until we got older. Skirt and blouse point, our weird town regrets, knives and forks eventually move on the meat, and we pray. Pass the salt, pass the dishes on. Leave the washing-up! We point at all the men on TV, and some mothers recall listening to a Radio One DJ. They had never heard of Paedophile.
When was the first ever paedophile? I ask the girls whose fingers never grew back, their cigarettes between what remains, say everything in Paedophile. They feed their babies something off from the fridge. Baby of each grew: their baby fingers go missing. Nothing is sure.
I have asked the 70’s if there was anything we could have done. The 70’s said this: Let’s leave it there. The 70’s disappears and we can’t understand it. All men are rounded-up into groups of different-shaped paedophiles.
Hilda Sheehan is a poet and educator based in Swindon. Her website is here.