subtitle: what I wish I told my sister before middle school
you will get your period one day,
and you will not feel like a woman.
you will feel like your body has betrayed
every promise it ever curled around
your little finger. this is normal.
you will get breasts soon after
or before—it’s different for everyone,
and you will still not feel like a woman.
you will wonder why they don’t look
like your mother’s, or anyone else’s, and if
you hate them for it. you will come across
someone someday and ache for them to crawl
inside your body. wait. you are not
a woman yet, even though you might
feel like it now, sometimes. even though
all of the boys in your grade get to be called
“young men.” you will have hips one day.
they are carriages for tomorrow’s generation. they tell you
your responsibility is not to yourself but to the child
blossoming like a gift. they will tell you you will have
a child. they will tell you it will be a gift. you will be
told so much. you will be told how to dress for your
body type, how to be gentle in sports and sex, how to hide
a whole castle in your delicate heart and never show anyone,
how to use the word “discreet” and apply it to
all of your bodily functions, how to conceal tampons
in your sleeves, how to yank at your hair until it lies flat,
and how to preen the slime of your father’s disgust
with your growing body out of each of your feathers. but
no one will tell you where your clitoris is
or that masturbation is not just for boys. or that
porn isn’t always what real sex is like, and that you
are actually allowed to fall in love with the folds in your
stomach that happen when you sit down.
you will have to research the word “autonomy”
by yourself. you will have to learn to love yourself
alone. you will hide your sexuality like a tooth
under your pillow until you can stop being
embarrassed about the way it was pulled from your mouth.
you will never forget the iron taste of those pliers.
this is all normal.