They See Her But Don’t Hear The Screaming Inside

A girl becomes a woman by learning to navigate public spaces to ensure that she is safe from the hands that are always there, or else be caged "for her own good".

A girl becomes a woman by learning to navigate public spaces to ensure that she is safe from the hands that are always there, or else be caged “for her own good”.

The first time you step out on your own is a lesson.
You teach yourself the art of contortion.
Twist and turn,
Swivel and dodge
Until fingers can’t touch,
can’t reach,
can’t stake a claim to what is not theirs.
Because if they do,
they’ll lock YOU up in boxes,
saying your body already knows how to bend
And that a cage is always safer than a coffin.

They’ll say you dreamed too much
of streets that only had echoes of the footsteps behind you,
That had smoke and mirrors,
But no faces,
Just conversations and stillness.
They’ll say I don’t see it so it must not be true.
I don’t hear screaming so there are only songs.
They’ll say I am happy and safe outside
and you will be too,
just not here.

The hundredth time you step out,
draping a shawl becomes a force of habit.
An old rotting armour against fear,
that is always new,
always there,
always reminding you of a distant whistle.
The jingling of keys and pens
and pepper spray in your bag
take on the rhythm of a hymn sung in the wrong hour.

When it’s dark, there are phone calls acting as lodestars
begging you to come home,
asking you to wash off the grime
when we all know that dust is not the only reason it was so hard to breathe,

Every time
you step out,
there is a battle cry heard somewhere between your breath and heartbeat,
teaching that
You walk in spaces you own
But that don’t belong to you.

Image source: shutterstock

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