I have nightmares of being a mother at 7 years old,
Of expanding like a bloated frog
And constantly cradling another in an
Oasis of bodily fluid
I never understood why expecting mothers
To their due dates.
When I tell my mother I have been crying over a girl, she accepts this but
Tells me I must give her grandchildren,
Motherly instinct pressed between my heart and the skin of my chest
Sprouting a green flower with all the
Water running out through my fingertips
To nurture the clamoring weeds.
It is Halloween night in my senior year of high school, and
I am to accept it when he calls me a cheap whore because I wore fishnets
I am to drive him to a party that night
I am to worry for him when he drinks too much
I am to scramble through cabinets for a spare cup, fill it
With tap water,
Hold his hand for the rest of the night.
The water running out through my fingertips does not cease.
I am a waterfall
And this is humiliating.
I am sparkling, shivering ripples, salamander chic, speaking soothingly,
Frothing white and splashing,
Soaked to the bone.
The water running out through my fingertips
Has a paper cut aftertaste—
Never get too close.
He got too close, but all I can think about are
I wish the world would see me the way the birds do:
A moving monolith of dignified wonder,
colors and shapes,
At times peaceful, at times feverish, overarchingly loving.
My mother doesn’t like it when people take advantage of me.
She makes me look her in the eye when she says this,
The whole world melting around the heat in her voice.
I never know what to say back.
I know I am seen and not heard. I know when I say the
Same story three times and he still does not remember
That I am just a little girl.
I want to ask my mother if she feels like me too.
Instead, I capsize.
What escapes me:
“People don’t take advantage of me.”
When I tell my mother I am not a woman,
She is hurt because what makes her a woman is me.