Starving

Your ribs are screaming at the surface of your skin, your spine like jagged mountains splitting your back

The light in your eyes is hidden behind a film of cigarette smoke and sadness

You learned to chew but not to swallow, to pinch and press and pull at pieces you don't like

You learned to press your words together and let the bitter taste of unspoken sentences rot on your tongue

 

But most of all, you learned to shrink

 

Because you take up too much room, your voice always rings out too loud

Because from the time that your DNA was so carefully woven into human existence,

From the time that scientists determined by whatever odds that you were going to be female,

You were destined to shrink into a fraction of a girl to make room for the ever-expanding waistlines and pay checks of the American male population

 

I am here to contradict everything you've ever been told

Do not let yourself disappear

 

You have fire tickling your throat and gold dripping off of your tongue

Let the farthest star know about your existence, scream it as loud as you can

Shatter the silent atmosphere, and come up for air with blood on your face

You were not made for porcelain skin and shivering on the cold, tile floor

 

Do not look at the ground when a boy gazes emptily at you and sloppily spits out words about those placid oceans you call eyes;

Hold your stare and tell him your eyes are an angry sea

Because "no" means no—not yes, not maybe, not sorry

 

And when they tell you to cover your shoulders and your face burns a bright shade of red,

Do not let the embarrassment of your body burn into your eyelids

Because you are more than any framework of bones and any canvas of skin your body could ever contain

You are bursting at the seams with passion and anger and determination to have the universe acknowledge your existence

 

And I've heard about the theory that this sick obsession with female thinness is more about female obedience

Do not let the male population swallow you whole because you are not trapped inside your body,

You are trapped inside of other people's perceptions of your body

 

And in reality it's just a lead bullet shell, your physical pawn,

Your crude representation of the fiery masterpiece of your being

You are all sharp angles

And jaws that close

And palms that clench

And words that pierce the atmosphere

 

As a woman, you were woven into the inky folds of the star-speckled universe—just like everyone else

 

If a boy on the bus wanders his hand up your thigh as comfortably as if it were his own, explode in from of him

Because you are not property to be branded and barcoded,

And your skin is not Braille to be felt while looking for answers

 

You are anger

And complexity

And intelligence

And fierce beauty concentrated into a human mold

The word "pretty" cannot contain you

 

While their eyes burn holes into your chest and leave your mind unscathed and unscanned,

I urge you to swallow every bite

Let the skin on your shoulders drink the sunlight,

And let the gentle curve of your silhouette kiss each and every wall that your shadows dance upon

Etch your voice into the sound waves, and laugh in the faces of boys with words like vanilla who think they define you

 

Because let me tell you: I am starving

Starving to see women stop shrinking for the close-minded and misogynistic

I’m starving to see our existence respected—

Starving to see people finally treated like people

 

This poem is about: 
My country

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