I think I remember the first time I noticed I was a woman.
I was seven,
and a man’s eyes lingered too long…
On what? I’m not so sure,
because I was so small, so bereft of something to stare at,
unchanged from the flesh flower my mother had given to the world,
not yet a woman, but stared at like one,
leered at like one,
not knowing why my skin was flushed and I felt a sudden urge to run but accepting it anyway.
Mother knows best.
My body knows best.
My never ending sense of dread when a man can’t keep his eyes to himself knows best.
Accepting that women have red cheeks and nervous legs that want to run.
Accepting that men stare, and strike fear into tiny women that are, in fact children.
I paint my cheeks a toasty brown,
to hide the red that lays beneath,
always on alert,
I got NDAs for my legs, letting them know that we don’t have time to be afraid.
I don’t have time to be afraid,
so I’ll silence my body when she’s seven years old again,
shaking and ashamed.
I’ll silence my body,
because I have things to do,
and, yes, I’m sick of stares,
I’m sick of animals shouting in the street for attention,
monsters, stalking through the streets at night.
I am sick but I am strong,
because I’m not seven years old anymore,
and even if I was,
my mother would applaud if I told him to fuck off,
so I shake it off,
I pretend I’m not afraid,
and I remind myself that I am a woman,
and I have shit to do,
and these streets are mine,
and my body is mine,
and my fear is mine,