Things We Are Not Told Early Enough


1. There is a lion in the throat of every girl
put there by her mother
the day she is born.
This is important.
They like to cage natural things
and tell the people who buy
tickets to feel dangerous,
getting so close,
that the magnificent creature
teeth grinding against metal bars
better serves her public, this way.
They think you are made
to be looked at.
Do not open your mouths for them.
2. You dance how you like to dance.
If it breaks you open,
welcome the draft.
If it makes you free,
welcome the new territory, every
inch of it yours to call ‘body.’
3. No skin makes you any less woman.
No body makes you any less woman.
Stand with your sisters, speak with
your sisters,
but never in place of them,
never presuming the shape
of their tongue
for your own.
We are woman and we will stand,
but my grief is not shaped like hers,
we have different teeth.
The stories come out different
when they must watch for the way
they were shaped by the mouth
who is speaking them.
4. Loving yourself has nothing to do
with vanity.
It is letting the windows open
after living an entire lifetime
within a perpetually burning house.
It is learning not to pick the flowers
so that they may grow stronger,
so that they may look more like you.
5. That beating inside of your chest
is a giving of sorts.
It is not something knocking to be
let out, but your body reminding you:
You Are Here.
Open it.
Listen to how
it sounds so much like
the way you are alive

Originally published in The Rising Phoenix Review.