Scar of One's Choosing

by Daria-Ann Martineau

Image by  Joel Mwakasege

Dear Daughter,

When you were a baby, I held you down

while a man shot a bullet of thin gold

through both of your earlobes.

I wondered if you cried because it hurt,

or because I was the one who let it happen.

But after, you were so pretty.

You looked like such a little lady.

I kissed the tender fat of your lobes,

happy for the framing of your sexless infant face.


Forgive me, years later,

when I see you

marked in ways I will not understand,

when I say,

We didn’t pay for you

to go away to school and come back looking like a sket.

When I say,

Only whores had tattoos in my day.

I know what you do with your body

is not for my bidding.


When I was 20,

I adorned my own skin:

gold studs bored through my ears like tiny flagpoles.

My mother cursed me for them.

I don’t mean to be her

as I see you at 20,

black ink scrawled across your back—

Adinkra symbol nodding to a history

long erased from our being. In this moment,

I see you are me, and I cannot claim you.


When I pierced you,

I was trying to avoid a fight,

all your aunts told me,

Do it while she’s a baby, before she understands,

remembers the pain.


And when you became infected,

I raised cotton buds to your ear,

said don’t cry baby.

Held your small body

against the hurt I’d caused

and my breast.

Dear daughter,

Tell me you understand me

why I wanted to choose your scars.

When could you have ever been more mine?


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Daria-Ann Martineau

Daria-Ann Martineau was born and raised in Trinidad and Tobago. After earning a BA in Speech and Hearing Science from The George Washington University (DC), she saw there were more interesting ways to understand language. She now holds an MFA in Poetry writing from New York University, where she was a Goldwater Hospital fellow. She is an alumna of the Saltonstall Arts Colony, the Callaloo Creative Writers Workshop, and the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. Her poetry has appeared in AnomalyNarrative and The Collagist, among others.