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It’s Not Personal

 


It’s Not Personal

for Ellie Butler & her sister

- Emily Critchley (U.K.)

Born not into this world, but entangled,

impact hardest hit on landing – and he knew

she knew she was a punching bag because her mother

had before her, and her sister, and there were the exes

before that, now strewing tears on daytime television,

and the public stranglings and the pregnant girlfriend

and the retinal haemorrhages and the burns on her fingers

and her forehead (at 5 weeks) and the little broken arm

and exoneration from the judge and incredulity from everyone. 

 

Trouble is she had no say because she was only five years old.

 

And although several key professionals engaged purposefully,

directly, there is a general lack of focus on the child

or on her sister as individuals and their wishes,

feelings and characters do not feature strongly

because she was only five years old – the other even younger –

inchoate human beings that never really counted

among the stinging branches and the scalding currents,

the expert testimonies and the legal wranglings. And we know,

have heard it said, how important it is for kids

to be with their parents: that special bond, those precious rights,

the swirling currents – impact of which will be referred to later.

 

Because now the child is dead; she had her head bashed in.

 

All narrative and professional attention is paid

[following a state apology] to the say-so of her [grown-up] parents.

The child – she knew and begged not to be taken

back to “the bad house” – has come and gone.

Brief promise of a human being petrified

in tears who stumbled, briefly, into the dark fray

of familial love that spins about the centre of this world /

stamps its expert seal on everything and knows,

she knew, we all know how it happened, how it never should,

and how it will again.