WHAT IT IS: A dose of poetry to get you through Monday

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.


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.

Vulnerable Girl by Benon Lutaaya

7 thoughts on “WHAT IT IS: A dose of poetry to get you through Monday

  1. Daphne this is so beautifully written! The truths of it have given me chills though.
    Damn those house boys! Been there with those house girls that make little girls scrub pans when mummy isn’t home 😏😏

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