I hear the way a father touches his baby girl is the way she expects all men to touch her. My father never touched me. Well, at least until 8 weeks after my birth. I spent those 8 weeks in an incubator, struggling for breath and listening 2 words from nurses and doctors that would caress me. I do love words, even the ones I don’t understand.
When my father, the German, final did touch me it was under my mother’s conditions, and through rubber gloves, like doctors wear during bloody surgeries. She demanded a mask, as well, to block his breath from ever scarring me. I’ve often wondered what it felt like to hold his child but not be able to feel her skin. Was it then that he decided girls were only trouble, too fragile of a thing, too much work for to coddle, and soon enough he would leave.
Perhaps in that moment my mother allowed him his right to cradle me in his arms he knew that 7 years later in his mad exit from my mother I would know the truth about how he first touched me. In a smoke puff field room, my mother told of a horrible morning, August 11th. That morning, like any other, she woke up and he walked in the front door. Angry, maybe even drunk and she had the audacity to say something. Somewhere in all the yelling there came to be the presence of fist. Fist she had known before but this time I would meet them as a direct blow met her stomach. It was not long until she was hunched over and holding the belly as if protecting me from the outside. There were prayers, tears and a mad rush to the hospital. Before nightfall their October Baby became an August. Two months too soon. But in a cold irony of that summer night he would never touch me until I should have been born.
Today, does he know that I only love men who refuse to touch me. The ones who do, or dare to want me, are nothing but a night gone terribly wrong. And fist don’t bother me, but words do. Each word somehow engraved on my skin, somehow wrapped around me the way arms should be. Words with inky hands squeezed and molded me to create the woman I am.