Photo by Alex Gorham

Photo by Alex Gorham

I’m a grubby woman in a pizza place. I know I am, but don’t realise the extent of it until I go to the bathroom and look into the mirror.

So. Grubby.

Black fingernails and five day old socks. Scratched legs. Deep brown face - part sun, part dust - hair standing up, up and over and around from that same dust and sun and dryness. I take a little time here to look at myself. From the corners of their eyes other women look too. I want them to look, and to see that I’ve just been somewhere and done something, spent time somewhere they may never get to know. My reflection is my proof. I must look awful, but in that mirror I am beautiful, I am queen.

Later I peel off my clothes before I shower. My ankles are black bands. My legs have gone furry, my hair doesn’t change when I take the kirbies out. I’m reluctant to wash the layers off because they will go, out and off and away. I want the change in me to be visible, to stay there - my full body tattoo. But I wash it all off and it disappears down the drain, my ankles three or four times before the black bands are gone. It’s dirt, after all.

Maybe some of the scratches will turn into scars.