What It Is
Being a woman is being a girl first.
It’s owning pink plastic watches
That don’t tick
Because time is a distant reality that you do not get
You know mommy will always be there
And she will always let you taste her Kingfisher drink
And watch you after as you dance and model.
Her beautiful daughter wrapped in lesu
Tipsy from a sip.
Being a girl is standing at the back of the line, awkwardly tall for your class mates
It’s blooming fast, hunching your back to hide height and breasts.
It’s bathing last,
Because the communal boarding school bathrooms
Offer no privacy for a girl with a growing bush
Or a bleeding snatch.
It’s having to hide elongated labia
That Mom said you would need as a woman
The same labia that mark you as backward and odd before your age mates.
It’s whining and gyrating while you dance
Except that mother will not let you dance
When she notices prying eyes depraved of innocence
In a crowd cheering you on.
It’s owning that double slits blue skirt
That you wear with a white vest
Dazing all with your budding curves
Yet father can not suffer to see you in it at public events.
Growing into a woman is learning that watches tick.
When Mom is buried,
A piece of your favorite skirt is cut off at the hem and
Knotted to her dress
So that she doesn’t come back to haunt you,
With her laughter, and her love.
You now teach yourself womanly things,
Like bending over the toilet seat to aim carefully
So that UTI’s don’t catch.
You learn to hate UTI’s
They are painful, impatient and expensive.
Being a woman is wearing red and purple lips
And polishing your nails into little pebble stones
Adorning your hair with a flower
And wearing as little clothes as you can because good things should not be hidden.
It is being swooned by sweet nothings,
Soothed by strong arms,
Promised heaven and given earth.
It is birthing little girls.
dancing in circles at a school Christmas party
Little girls whirl their round white dresses
And though it is November, this is the last day of school
December is far
And a little girl will be away from school
In an empty house
Except for the Help.
Some Decembers it is a male Help,
Other Decembers it is a female Help.
The female one locks her up in a kitchen
Little girl washes the dishes, scrubs the pans,
Or the Help strikes her legs with sticks
Little girl, alone and abused.
The male one has a stick and a towel
When he strokes her with his stick,
White porridge pours from its tip
and he cleans it with a towel
Little girl, alone and abused
Woman is lost
When we cannot protect little girls
From the things that happen to little girls.