Winter Ball.

You stop me in the hallway

After first period and tell me that you can’t

take me to winter ball cause I’m too flat chested

That night

I locked my door and cried into the tissue

that I used to stuff my bra.

 

You always hug that girl

who comes to school in heels

so I arched the soles of my feet over the rejection

and the pain wasn’t even worth your attention.

 

“Why is your hair so short?”

So I burned my ears

before I learned to fold them down

To set things straight,

It’s not short,

just curly.

 

But I couldn’t fit it into the ponytail that I could twirl

while you asked me to winter ball.

So in high school

I put glue in my hair

forcing what I wish I was

to be bonded to what I am.

 

I cried because I thought I was dying

My mom told me that’s just my period

So I laughed with my friends about it

as we bonded over woman things and talked about

losing our virginity

at winter ball.

Gypsophilia

I keep my eyes closed when I think about you.

So maybe I’ll wake up and the reason my heart beats this fast will be because of a dream.

Because you’ve chased me with a knife made of stories I’ve told you.

And you know it’ll cut me

Deep.

Cause you still haunt me.

So you chase me until we’re exhausted

and I try to reason with you

I shield the wrong part of myself

I’ve fallen in the garden we’ve made together in spring

Nothing has grown in months

Except for these white flowers that brides hold.

But I wake up

And it still hurts.

I shouldn’t have given you that knife

Coffee Strong.

My legs are strong enough to carry me and your burdens

I carry mine in this purse.

It bounces off my hourglass

As the light countdowns.

I begin before it allows me.

 

My thighs exchange greetings

As I walk to the coffee shop

Necks wind as I sway to the door

 

Dark skin glistening at the counter

A smile.

Black coffee please.

 

“Is someone sitting here?”

My stuff is there. All around this place.

You hold your hands up and acquiesce.

Walking backward for your protection.

 

When I leave I can see noses in the air

Inhaling the fragrance

Gifted to me by my mother

I bring it with me to the street

 

“Fuck you too then bitch.”

I laugh at how that used to make my shoulders rise.

A corner boy with gutter words

Bitch dripping from his fangs.

 

Rejection is bitter

To a pack of wolves.

 

My coffee is stronger than you, boy.

 

A Table.

As if you weren’t beautiful enough

You brought history into our home

And as I watch you hammer and nail

I think about the men before you

How they never wanted to build with me

But you build for me

With us in mind

And this table could very well be oak

And last until we are only known through pictures with wooden frames

And this table will be as strong as our family tree

It will spark a never ending

Forever changing story of how great great grandpa cut down this wood with his bare hands

The same hands that picked it up from the store

But that can be our secret

Like the extra late night snacks you’ll have on this table

And the mythical version of you will spread like fire

A monolith for a husband.

Can you imagine it?

Disconnected.

I categorize my habits

And rituals

Tone of voice and name

Second-hand characteristics that were given to me piecemeal

By a woman from Connecticut

And a woman from Georgia.

From a place we assume she called home.

But we say she must not be from there.

 

I can I live in this place

Be born in it

And not be allowed here.

 

But where I am now

In between two worlds.

The duality stretches me from left and right

Pulling at me

Makes me uncomfortable when I contemplate having to choose one

I don’t know Africa.

I have never been.

I was born here. I am not proud of it.

Who should be?

A Scary Time For Men

A Scary Time For Men.

 

I ask him a question, tepidly.

Because I know I will burn up when he answers.

I don’t want it to be like that.

“What do you mean…?”

He is like granite standing there

He used to be like clay

But now his suits and pocket squares define him.

And I am still here like an anchored balloon

Floating around in the same spot.

 

“I mean what I said, it is a scary time for men”.

I try to not let my words leap out and wrestle him.

I don’t want it to be like that.

I try to take the rage and fury out of my voice

And distinguish the flame he sparks in my entire body.

I’m running out of vision.

 

I am 14. Or 15.

I am a little girl.

“I am in a position of power”.

My body jumps as the car drives over an uneven street.

“She dresses inappropriately, what if she accuses me of something?”.

The man next to me smells like metal. He is old.

The street lights slither over him sometimes

But he’s just a dark shadow next to me.

“I’ve made complaints about her clothes and no one has said anything”.

It’s just me and the old man in the back seat.

He rubs my thighs and I sit quietly because I don’t want to get in trouble.

He rubs my breasts and I’m too scared to move.

“It’s just a scary time for men, that’s all i’m sayin”.

 

I raise my voice and now the whole house is quiet.

“You’re not listening, so I’m done talking”.

He closes the conversation.

Like a man closing his briefcase at the end of an unsatisfying business meeting.

I can’t stop yelling. Or being furious.

“It’s okay that we disagree sometimes”.

He says this calmly.

I can feel that man’s hands crawling over my body like a spider.

I see the lights over his stomach that hung over his pants.

His face hidden in the darkness of the car.

The roughness on my thighs. Hard labor old man hands on my little girl body.

 

I scream and yell and feel unhinged.

I want to hit something.

Kick and scream.

I want to cry

I still want him to take me serious.

I am a tornado of emotions.

I have not seen the old man in the car since.

I have ran away from that moment.

My lover’s fear put me back in that car.

Then his fear locked me in.

I wanted to hurt him for that,

For ignoring my pain.

This is a scary time for men.