This poem is very near and dear to my heart. I wrote this about womanhood in general, the growing up of it, the pain in it, the masks we wear to do it and, mostly, about the woman who taught me how to do it-- my mom.
My mother is my biggest influence in my life. I have seen her change with the times as her strength and power has only become greater as she’s aged. I was so scared of being a girl, in truth. I didn’t understand the place I was supposed to sit in and I felt that she was the person who made me question it. She never fit into one mold and was always inexcusably her own.
I hope women can read this and understand the juxtaposition of being a good mother and being a good woman, as they sometimes clash when you are trying to do the right thing to protect your child from the cruelty of society. Her sacrifices were never waved in front of my face, and her truth was never pushed onto me, making her own personal experiences a tale she only tells in dreams. Her humility made her brave. Being female is strong, but hers is the strongest.
She Only Speaks In Dreams
Oh, the blood. Running down my legs into the pristine linoleum,
spilling horror out of my body.
“A woman you now are,” my mother closed her eyes and
graced me with the cotton septor.
You’ve qualified for male impertinence and scrutiny
for the rest of your bloody life.
Rejoice in your doom.
Give resilience to the monthly reminder
that your body is man’s machine.
The next fourteen years of poppy-seeded
stubble body hairs sprouting about your body
should be waxed and waned
as quickly as the man changes in the moon.
At twenty you’ll go to bars
and learn to only
speak fairytales from your tongue,
kiss sweetness from your lips,
lick sugar from the rim.
Until sweetness turns sour
and you catch your mother
speaking riddles in her sleep.
Tossing in the night between
she should have been
and the one he made her into,
Smash your septor, baby,
Braid your leg hairs,
Kiss only when you mean it,
Drink whiskey, neat.
By Kendall Rotar
In my last spring break, I disappeared for a night. While I suspect that this was the second time I’ve been roofied, I’ll probably never know for sure. After waking up in a strange place and returning home, I saw the damage that I believe I had caused--the tears and panic in my mom’s eyes, my boyfriend sitting in the driveway crying as he waited for me to come home. I don’t know what happened that night.
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