by Maria Beale aged 16

If I had known
if I could have foreseen
oh, how I could save my back
from this impetuous hauling,
kept my mind from this harbouring
of serpents.
They are not mine.
they are his.
They are his and he has condemned me to live with them.
My serpents and I.
Oh, how we must smile, laugh and get by.
Despite this venomous secretion
and oh, how its toxicity scorches my skin
like a transparent layer of acid,
a searing sort of nothingness.
But alas,
we smile, we laugh,
we get by.

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