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A POEM: Baby

 

You’re all striped hair extensions and

Bubble-gum pink lips and lids.

Glitter is your middle name.

It is calligraphed on the labels you wear and

The decals stuck to your nails,

Some hearts.

Other’s stars.

 

You laugh and talk

Lubricious

In your words of parties

Up The Valley and beer tags tossed

Like wedding confetti.

There is no bouquet of flowers.

But there are plenty of daisy tatts and

The women throw themselves at The Men

As desperate as any satin-dressed maiden.

 

You’re different though.

Even though you’ve got the same clothes and hair and makeup.

It’s in your eyes.

Something darker.

Like the shadow of a bird.

A crow with its heathen connotation.

Or a vulture, circling on the winds

Of carrion.

 

But the real truth is one neither of us forgets.

That the swaddle of tight clothes

Is to calm you as you try very, very hard

To take even a gasp of breath.

***

This poem was written in response to a certain kind of girl we recognise in pop culture as the ‘popular girl’ trope. It imagines and considers perhaps some of the darker thoughts and feelings hidden beneath the perky, pretty exterior. This exterior can be interpreted as a mask carefully made up to attract not only the opposite sex but also validating responses for a particular self-concept. In this poem I tried to take apart some aspects of that mask and to create empathy for girls, who, like all of us, are just muddling through…

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