Girl, Unwanted

They told me
at age four
that I could be whatever I wanted to be
and without knowing how to read
the fine print of that statement,
I believed them.

They asked me
at age ten
what my favourite colour was
and I was ashamed to say pink
so I filled my mouth with every colour of the rainbow
to sweeten the taste of my lie.

They told me
at age thirteen
that I should be grateful
men three times my age whistled at me from cars
like a dog –
it was a compliment
wearing a frightening mask.

They asked me
at age sixteen
on first dates:
are you a tomboy or a girly girl?
As if there wasn’t a million other in-between people
I could have been.

They asked me
at age nineteen
if I was “like other girls”
and I flipped my hair and told them proudly,
guiltily, as I betrayed my sisters,
that no, I was not.

They tell me now,
at age twenty-two,
that I can still be whatever I want to be,
but all I can do
is choke on my anger
and hope one day I never have to regurgitate that lie
to my daughters.


Rape Poem

This wasn’t what she had learned about
in every fairytale her father read her
each night before bed.
This knight in shining armour
had bad breath
and worse intentions,
teenage acne
and an army of hands,
fingers sliding up her skirt.
Princesses in the stories
never said, “Stop”
when the knights kissed them,
they always liked it.
So she clenched her fists,
grit her teeth
and gave in, for one moment,
forgetting that she was not a princess.
When the knight with acne
began to hurt her,
she remembered she was a queen,
and that she had the right to deny intruders access
to her castle,
her temple,
her body was not his high school playground.
She refused him there, at the dried-up moat,
told him,
commanded him,
But his army invaded anyways, taking what was never their’s to take.

“Okay, that’s it.”
“We’ve heard enough!”
the jury screams, demanding answers.
The public thinks
they have the right to throw blame
at whomever it sticks to the most.
They ask her the same questions she herself asks
every night after brushing her teeth but before falling asleep;
what if I had pushed back,
shoved away, hard,
beat my knight
like the dragon I know I can be;
what if I had filled my lungs
between gasping, crying sobs,
and screamed for help;
what if I had just learned
the correct pronunciation of the word,
in whatever language that boy must have spoke
because surely it couldn’t have been English?

They command her to come up with answers
when she can’t even come up for air,
all she knows is her world was never a fairytale
and now it never would be.
She will go down in her high school halls instead as a fable,
The Girl Who Cried Rape,
the one girls gossip about behind manicured nails,
the one guys joke about in locker rooms.
They ask what she wore,
as if her clothes could speak for her,
and no matter her answer,
their’s still would have been rape jokes and slut shaming,
resentment and judgement.
They ask what she said,
as if he couldn’t understand her tears
even if he couldn’t hear her, “No”;
as if he never had to pin her hands behind her
to keep her from escaping.
They ask her why she dated him if he raped her
and she choked on her answer:
she thought he was her knight in shining armour,
but real knights don’t use your love
as a weapon against you.

They never ask him, though,
why he ignored her tears,
her body language,
her words,
why he ignored her, period.
They don’t ask him
what he wore,
or what he did to her,
or what he said afterwards
to get her to stop crying.

They never ask him
why he raped her.