My Mother's Daughter

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I do not understand my mother.
My mother is the head of business,
went-back-for-master’s,
workaholic who brings
in about ninety nine percent
of the household income.
My mother once snapped at a man
at a baseball game
because he assumed that
my father was the breadwinner
while my mother was the
stay-at-home parent.
My mother is the
head example of modern business woman.

But when I tell my mother
I am a feminist,
she rolls her eyes,
clicks her tongue,
curls her lip.
She tells me
that women should
be grateful for what we have
and not ask for more.

You are lucky.
You are blessed.

You are lucky.
You are ungrateful.

She says to not dress like other
girls, that shirts
are meant to cover, not show off.

You are reserved.
You are modest.

She says that I should lose weight.
She says I should study harder.
She says I should keep
my mouth shut.

You are not flawless.

She says that I need to get
my head out of clouds
and back onto earth.

I tell her about drunken men

fighting every instinct to keep their hands off of me.
I tell her about dress codes encouraging girls
to control the bad habits of boys.
I tell her that I planted
my feet on Earth a long time ago
and I don’t like what I see.

She says, “Look harder.”

I say screw that.
I will paint my nails blood red
and ride into battle;
forge a crown of diamonds;
Wing my eyeliner
into spears
that can cut through muscle.
I will wear the brightest lipstick
to accentuate
every word that comes
out of my mouth.
Be it whisper to shout,
it deserves to be heard.

I am warrior.
I am princess.

I will let myself be cleansed.
I will be reborn again –
burning away
and shaking off the ashes
every morning.
You will not hold me down.
Look at me, take me in:
I am a five foot, skyscraping,
marble column.
I am the work
of nebula fingers
and the last thoughts of dying stars.

I am art.
I am masterpiece.

I am reclaiming myself
from those who tell
me how to wear
my skin or work
my mouth.
Revolt against the puppeteer
and cut away the marionette strings.

I am flesh.
I am tongue and teeth
with chapped lips
and bitten cheeks
no longer muzzled.
I am words that change
the world.

I am smartass.
I am poet.

So I tell you mother,
this is what I am.
See your daughter as you
never have before.

I am feminist.
I am woman.
I am flawless.

 

 

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