The girl at the front says
she wants to cut my head off.
I ask her if I would carry it
under my arm like one of Henry’s wives
or stand in front of the class,
my neck spurting blood.
She turns away, bored already.

I imagine her stuffing it into her bag
like the boy’s book she said
she intended to burn later,
telling the R.E. teacher to fuck off
when he tried to get it back.

Her red hair glints,
she played the dragon in our story,
reading her part with feeling.
She’s had years in care,
a mother who comes and goes.

I stick gold stars in her book
for pages of unintelligible writing,
for not swearing directly at me,
for staying in her seat most of the time,
for cutting off bits of herself.