congratulations, it’s a girl, says the doctor. congratulations, it’s a girl, and we have rose-tinted bubblegum-scented ultrasound gel for an extra 3 dollars. and the baby shower will have
frosted balloons, and pink ribbons, and red cake for the blood that has not left the womb for nine months,
red for life and for pain and for lipstick,
and when the blood and the life leaves the womb it will be swaddled in soft femininity and it will feed on the teat of patriarchy. they will say you’re a sinner for letting her touch that toy truck, you’re a sinner for teaching her to defend herself, you’re a sinner for
letting her leave the house like that, but all she knows now is how to
gnaw on barbie’s head until it’s chewed and slimy with saliva. you don’t claim to be god but
you won’t bind her hands with pages from the bible.
and today it’s the second day of kindergarten. when a boy steals her unmellow yellow crayon it’s because he likes her,
and tomorrow she passes through the freudian phallic stage without losing her sense of identity, and when she’s thirteen her dad’s friend slides his hand onto her thigh under the table
keeps it there the entire dinner because he likes her, and she still
can’t smell lasagna without gagging. when she’s sixteen she lets her friend’s brother kiss her
because the boys at school call her pancake chest
his tongue tastes like an ashtray limp and slimy in her mouth, and after she brushes her teeth three times she lies in her bed and cries. God, she says,
God why am i here? and he says one day you will make a pen.is erect and you will know.
the next day a suit on the subway undresses her with his empty eyes,
so when the barista asks for 3.99, her number, and half of her soul she complies. splits it down the middle where the bone is and hands it over in exchange for
a soy milk latte.
by seventeen she is tired of lugging god’s most precious gift to
school and work and back so she gives it to a boy in a walmart parking lot, cuts off her hair for good measure and
now she knows. men keep her hair long for easy grip. so she goes home:
how was your day/itwasfine i’m going out/not in that you’re not/whynot (she knows whynot) puts on a potato sack, packs a suitcase full of underwires and razor blades and tweezers
throws it in the pond for when the fishes say mommy will i be pretty one day?
but when the time comes for her to jump she changes her mind and gets on a greyhound bus
to new york city, it is dark when she arrives but the streetlights
float above her head like small suns and keep her warm. she walks past painted ladies with civilized but asymmetrical briefcases, walks past people eating each other’s faces in the shadows, walks until she arrives at the last flat building plugging the holes in the sky she enters the elevator and presses the top floor.
by the time she gets to the 35th floor she has swallowed 35 advils, and when she reaches
Not Heaven she has swallowed her tongue. it smells like old spice and clementines. the angels say don’t worry, we eat out of our collarbones here; try the clouds, they’re made out of windex and taste just like tacos; love is when you shoot smoke into your brain and it cooks your heart.
she hates steak so she lets her nails grow to the floor and sacrifices herself to the newtonian universe
lets gravity lower her back down to earth, to the middle of eighth avenue where suits walk around her until someone calls 911.
the next thing she remembers is white ceiling tiles. the hush hush of voices next to her.
doctors (nearly all her bones were shattered upon impact only god knows how she survived) mom (unintelligible)
she learns to walk again, to talk again, to live again
paints her eyelids with kohl to be beautiful for herself, to be strong for herself. uses judo on anyone who dares lay a hand on her. eats lasagna every wednesday night and loves it.
congratulations, it’s a girl, they say, and she will have to heal.