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Girl Child

Kerrie Draghi

Standing in a 
dark room, 
Her back against the wall.
White dress,
awkward haircut
From the shadow she calls,
To see her, notice her.

I say - I have been you too,
And it is a begging to be believed, 
A begging to be seen
When you are standing on that precipice,
One leg dangling 
Off a cliff’s edge.

I want to tell her,
Stay on your own fighting side. 
The world will try to break you
if it finds you unarmed.
Treasure your anger,
It will be all that you have. 

In just a few years, 
You might find yourself, 
Sweet sixteen and never been,
Tired of waiting to let the right one in.

There will be some that only ever gaze
at you from across the room,
Some that wait outside the door
but never have the courage to open it,
Others walk in, scuff the carpet, walk out,

Don’t care to shut the door. 
You might find that Girlhood feels a lot like living in a haunted house.

So you try to change,
Make yourself smaller, prettier
Less intense, less alive.
You try to crush your own desire,
Try to want less, be less.
Diminish your own light to let them shine.

Your voice is silenced
And then you are blamed 
for not using it
Your wings are clipped,
And then you are blamed 
for not knowing how to fly.

So many will try to force
Shame down your throat,
Hit you over the head with a Bible, 
Call it God’s will.
One might lock you inside his bedroom,
Throw away the key, say you belong to him
Take you as a blank canvas,
Paint you in the image of himself,
Place you upon his mantlepiece 
Call you His Muse.

Girl Child, 
You look just like I did 
Before I lost myself to the world. 
The way that it happens 
Is so insidious, that you might not notice 
Until a decade has passed 
And you wake up alone in the early hours,
Yearning for that white dress.

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