Stories for Human Rights and Social Inclusion
Poetry

What It Is

BY ARINDA DAPHINE

Being a woman is
Being a girl first
It’s owning pink
Plastic watches that don’t tick
Because time is a distant
Reality that you do not get
You know mommy will always be there
To let you taste her Kingfisher
And watch you dance after
Her beautiful daughter
Tipsy from a sip.

Being a girl is standing at the back
Of the line awkwardly
Tall for your class mates
Hunching your back
To hide breasts.
It’s blooming fast,
It’s bathing last,
Because school bathrooms
Offer no privacy for a girl
With a growing bush
Bleeding red
Or elongated labia
That Mommy said you would need as a woman
The same labia
That mark you as backward and odd
Amongst age mates.

Being a girl is dazzling
All with your budding curves
Except mommy wont
Let you dance
Before a crowd
With eyes depraved.
It’s owning a Double Slits blue skirt
That father
Cannot suffer
You wearing at public events.

You learn that watches tick
When Mom is buried.
The hem of your skirt
Is cut and knotted to hers
So that she does not
Come back to haunt you,
With her laughter and her love.

You now teach yourself womanly things,
Like bending over
the toilet seat
Not to catch UTI’s

Being a woman
Is wearing scarlet lips
Eyes golden like emoji
Nails polished like gems
Hair adorned
With daisies
And roses,
Wearing little clothes
Because good things should not be hidden.

Woman is swooned by sweet nothings,
Soothed by strong arms,
Promised heaven
And given earth.

Woman is mother of little girls.

Little girls at a school Christmas party
Dancing in circles
Whirling their skirts.
The music stops and a little girls
Is sent home to her gloom

Little girl
Body striped with swellings
From the maids’ beatings
Behind locked gates
She’s stroked by the Groom
His stick
Spills porridge
At its tip

Little girl shrivels inward
Like a poisoned fruit.

Woman is lost
When we cannot
protect
little girls
From the things
that happen to
little girls.

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