To a Girl Who Doesn’t Yet Know
“First you are untouched.
I won’t say pure, which brings to mind white dresses
and eyes that linger on the fabric like oil stains.
in a world of your own making,
dancing around a rainbow scarf (the inexplicable object of your adoration)
on the carpet of your bedroom,
or sitting, staring at the new world in which you find yourself.
Time dances too.
You are allowed a finite number of good winters.
Soon your body expands, roils. Becomes something that isn’t quite yours.
You can be evicted at any time, and you will be.
When you are no longer a child, you learn how to put things inside of you.
It’s what they want you to do. It’s what the loud world asks for.
You never learn that no is an option. And anyway, it isn’t.
First you are something untouched, something with a rainbow scarf,
not pure because that’s a man’s word,
a word pasted on in retrospect, in longing, in denial.
Then you become a vessel, a roiling collection of flesh.
You are no longer the water; now you are something heavy that must tread its surface.
I am sorry for what the world gave you,
stomach and legs and how you learned to cover them,
how you learned to display your flesh,
to avert your eyes, to receive.
I am sorry for the hungry world, for what it demanded of you,
how it puts out its hands and said give,
how it stuck its fingers inside of you,
how you learned to make the faces that mean you like it.
How you don’t know, anymore, whether you’re pretending.
I am sorry for the growth and the contamination,
how your body became something for someone else to eat,
how the scarf was given away in a garage sale, years ago,
to a little girl who doesn’t yet know.”