How Does My Garden Grow?

I have never aligned myself with the supernatural

I look for reason and logic, not magic and witches

To explain what happens in this life

I learned from my parents,

Who learned from their parents before them

That magic spells and cauldrons

Do not change the world

 

And so imagine my wide, wondering eyes

My look of intense surprise

When our dinner guest turned to my family

And announced that my father was cursed.

 

Cursed? I thought to my 6-year-old self

How could this man

Surrounded by love, happiness, comfort

Possibly be cursed?

What was it in his life

Something so evil, so malignant

That this guest, this stranger in my home

Could possibly dare to call him cursed?

 

My wide eyes turned to the stranger

And my bafflement was not lost on our guest

And he explained,

 

“Your father is cursed

With femininity

He married a girl

All of his children are girls

Hell, his dogs are girls

You women”

(he spat the word)

“Are robbing him of his manhood

And if he knows what’s good for him

He’d get a boy dog

Or at least try for a son

And save himself from you.”

 

And I sat in shock

Staring up at this unfamiliar man

 

No one had ever told me

That simply being a girl

Was something to be ashamed of

And I didn’t know why,

but I was ashamed

so very ashamed

To have let my father down

By simply being

 

And if that man planted the seeds of doubt in my mind

Then the laughter and jokes

And oh so lovingly pointed fingers that followed

Only watered the weeds now growing

Inside my young, fertile mind

 

And the next year

On the playground, when

A group of boys

Kicked me out of their ball game

Grabbed me by legs, hung me upside down

Flipped my green and orange dress up

And pointed at my panties, saying

“Girly dress, girly panties

Girly girls can’t play ball”

And I screamed and I shouted

And they dropped me to the ground

And I told them how wrong they were

I told them how I could do everything they could do

And my dress and my panties

Didn’t change the fact that I could catch better than them anyways

I was so sure that they were wrong

 

But I never wore the pretty green and orange dress again

 

And shortly after the playground incident

My little sister

My sweet, baby sister

With her dolls and frills and baby lisp

And delicate hands that couldn’t catch a cold if they tried

Cut all of her hair off

Tore the bows and ribbons out of her hair

And began climbing trees,

Scraping knees

Insisted on being called “he”

Instead of “she”

 

And although she soon transitioned back

To her frills and ribbons and curls

 

I could not unsee

The glimmer of pride that I caught in my father’s eye

As he took her fishing,

Tossed her a ball,

Took her camping

Went with her to Scouts

 

I could not unsee how

Though he loved her before

And he loved her after

He never looked at her the same way

As he did when she

Was a he

 

The weeds that that man at the dinner table planted

Grew strong, grew tall

Nourished by my experiences

Choked any flowers of love

Any flowers of self-worth, of self-confidence

That had been planted in my mind

That might have thought to bloom

 

And as much as others tried to help

As much as I wanted to help myself

The flowers died as quickly as they were planted

And somehow, I was okay with that

Flowers were girly anyways

 

And who wants to be a girl?





 

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