/carrie chappell

Here Is The Mark Of The Girl

Rooned! she said. Rooned, rooned, rooned! and her mother, coming off her chair, or from the cupboards, begged her to calm down, to speak the word truly, as it was meant to be said. Ruined. The girl’s lips wouldn’t taste it. Girl left the bench, stormed outside, to a small bump in the front yard where she bent to lift the garden hose that was at her feet. She was tired of the rehearsal, the metronome. Surely, she thought she could take something else, this or any garden object, to yank and yank, to follow her around and speak her will. Why couldn’t she wet all this ground, like a man, and make any space ripe with her want?


The word was a whole house,
Drawn out by vowel
And disaster. Rooned,
The word was a whole life 

Enchanted. To be rooned,
To be woman wasn’t 
A choice; it was a

Befalling, was risky
Arrival to this land,
Fleshed with want,
Flushed with god. 

She imagined herself
Losing their love,
Then losing the victim’s
Vision. But the curse of self

Was handsome
And the wringing her hands 
Of her own wrong
Doing would be great.

What she inherited, she 
Polluted. There was
Her obsession with language,
Of mother’s mother’s

Mothering tongue, of so much 
Matriarch, of so many
Church-going voices lecturing
Blah blah blah no 

Children out of wedlock,
Saying this to the girls
As if to make marriage
A wanted status, chain

And lock or roon. The word
Was a whole chorus, 
And she ever-teetering
Towards it, plotted her fall

Between the organ keys
That tickled her acolyte sleeve,
Loud toll of their worst nightmare.
She dared dig in, cajole the 

Perversion. Rooned, a whole 
Nation away from god, 
No other America
Understanding the way

This region lived,
And how she buttered
Her hands in its dirt
Slightly saved, 

Slightly suicidal. 
She was a rooning girl. 
Sin balanced on her 
Lips like memory work,

And she held the pewter
Baby, a messiah
In her hand, sang a hymn, 
While brushing the red-

Tipped pages of her 
Hymnal, that so many days 
Of Christian acceptance 
Had blessed her with. 

Sundays she rose 
From bed, legs shaking 
As she walked towards
The sanctuary, her muscles 

Full of becoming 
Sexual desire. She felt 
The congregation open 
Its mouth to say Thanks

Be to God, as she pulled 
At the wad of white 
Tights that’d gone 
Loose around her crotch, 

Felt how life in this church,
In a woman’s body, 
Would always be a-fidget, 
A failing. She straightened 

Her back, having interpreted 
The mother’s look. 
For them, she must always be 
Waiting but also very ready

To give. As she followed
The goers down the aisle,
Swallowed the body, the blood,
As she, walking primly, understood 

The contortion her frame 
Must make to live the righteous
Pain of ceremony, 
She felt the blister 

That had been heaving there, 
In the back pew of her shoe, 
Go taut and pop. Rooned
The word, her whole parable.

Carrie Chappell is a writer, editor, educator, and translator. Originally from Birmingham, Alabama, Carrie is interested in exploring feminine personae and the narration of lives of women as they confront a conflicting nostalgia for and injury perpetuated by Western structures of prejudice, particularly those apparent in her homeland of the U.S. American South. Some of her poetry has been published in Harpur Palate, Nashville Review, Pittsburgh Poetry Review, SWWIM, and Yemassee. Currently, she lives in Paris, France, and serves as Poetry Editor for Sundog Lit.