Girlhood – Kristiana Reed

she’s the tough girl. soft girl. doesn’t get involved girl. the too much girl. yet never enough girl. smile girl. what are you laughing at girl?

cry girl. middle of the dance floor girl. she’ll hold your hair girl.

she’s his girl. my girl. will always be the baby girl. daddy’s girl. shy girl. get them out for the lads girl.

she’s a show girl. not much of a grower girl. innocent girl. lost girl. missing girl. the nobody knows her anymore girl.

she’s the ‘you’ve changed’. learnt how to be brave. the woman you fail to recognise. because you do not use her proper name.


 

Kristiana Reed is a writer and an English Teacher living in the UK. She is the creator of My Screaming Twenties on WordPress and she is currently working on her debut poetry collection which will be released this Spring. Her work has been published in several poetry anthologies (Swear To Me, All The Lonely People, We Will Not Be Silenced), in the feminist issue of MAELSTROM Zine and the inaugural issue (flight) from Nightingale and Sparrow.

She has grown out of herself – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

The girl, the gash, the glory
she was once even referred to as happy whore
sinister slut, fake good girl
the girl of multifaces
is no longer a girl
she has grown out of herself
the sharp thorns of her virginity
long bled
she is now a woman of dubious age
standing on the hemmed periphery of other girls with elastic limbs
their body language leans away, saying; she is no longer their sister
(they whisper, they whisper)
an aging divide
four and five, divide by nine
long multiplication
she has been subtracted out
something about the lines in her eyes
she’s not one of us, they say in collective pollen count
coming together like a quilt
leaving her to wade out into flat water
only five years ago, only less than that
when she had a full head of bright hair and nimble back
she somersaulted in their field
picking irises
and they did not bat an eye
she was under the radar
nar, nar, nar!
old enough to be mother to some
those angry girls with tight biceps and lungful of words
but they did not detect
the softening of her cleavage
the jello in her thighs singing its spring bulb
they only saw her pretending
thought her good enough and one of them
til the sickness left its indelible mark
a red hand print covering her left eye
the one she could not see well from
(Premature macular degeneration, you may lose your sight, the optician gleefully sung)
turning her with its yellow dusted baptism
honest to her guilt of years lived
I am four and five not divided by nine
I smell different to you
this is what men sense when they sniff around us like
wolves come from rain storm
instinctively keening toward the coltish and fawn
as we who are older turn like wine
another vintage they have no taste for
she could fool them well but did not, after her visit to Hades
wish to pretend to be a girl anymore
only a woman could have survived
and it was stamped as surely as Ash Wednesday
a third eye
the slow drain of life began
she saw it first in her hands, then her mouth
it did not so easily tell stories
when Spring came, they knew her truth
without saying anything, left her out
of their Mayday circle
all the light-footed snow rabbits and their daisy chains
now when she tried to join in
they circumvented her, like
she was a parent, a teacher, an elder
with respect, but no thought given
of her pattered exclusion
maybe she did the same, when she
had such halo radiance
just as boys turn to men and wish
to scoop up girls and remain
ever held in youthfulness
she saw her own extinction
in their slow passing over her gaze
she was becoming invisible
first her hair, then her arms, then her feet
gone into deep water and not returned
she swam out to the lighthouse
where piercing rays caught
undulated water like a lovers stroke
and by fevered spray of waves against rock
stared at her future like chain and ball
why does a woman have?
first the pummeling of her elders
constraining her flight?
then reigned condemnation of those
wishing to corset and divide
and finally, as she ages
the talisman of wisdom enveloping her
an unspoken rejection by her own sisters
who think themselves invulnerable
far removed, not tainted yet by
her approaching wither
til the only one left to speak
is her own voice
and in unblemished muslin sky
she becomes a single long tail bird
seeing everything
from on high
that lonely place
of insight and exile
how she longs still
to be pulled into the sewn circle
embraced by her daughters and shimmering girls
given the crown of daisies
led whirling and laughing
around mosaic may pole
like a girl who has remembered
her life before she was born
again clasping the soft hands
of future
fearful of nothing
in the rawboned bosom of her sisterhood

For the whole we are – Candice Louisa Daquin

Out there

somewhere

all my lovers

each with a piece of me

I would ask

give them back

those crusts and half eaten slices

for the whole we are

prior to devour

feels good in the late day sun

and he comes to me

with his blackened hand

blocking out light

and muffling my mouth

beneath the stuffing of his hunger

to pluck before ripe

these crab apples small

wriggling like the worms

who rise when it rains

hearing the beat of water

hypnotic drum

I escape from his suffocate

like an eel loosed in oil

will slip and slide and

eventually vanish before your eyes

he cannot clasp me tightly

I am oil and water and brine

there is nothing of substance yet

just honey in chicory hive

we outlast the day in escape

climbing trees not yet high

raising roofs with our hide

to be at peace without

you needing to burnish your

wick on things free of

sickness

maybe there was never

a time of innocence

instinct knows the

predator even as the babe

is born in grass with

blood and gore of birth

scenting trackers

it is a lottery of minutes

rise to your feet

shaking and unsteady

follow your mother into

gathering woods

deeper where ribboned savage

shall not sharpen his sight

eclipse yielding moon shine

stay to shadows dwelt

the smell of you is enough

to drive lust into fecund earth

an anvil of evil

we spring and leap away

hoping its tarnish not stay

permenant like ink on fingers

rubbed away

there is then

no time of protection

from the moment we walk

there are eyes on us

stealing inside our vault

still, I wish for a remembered

moment

we were whole and unbroken

saved in rosy glow

of familiarity

before we grew away

from ourselves

and fragments spoke

of estrangement and

empty houses where

stranger is invited to

sup at our scarred table

such skillful stories he weaves

to splendid child

who is not yet versed

in deceptive wiles

and when she lays with him

it is the trust of

sun yet set on asylum hill

rounding out long day

for nothing is as bewitching

as the wish to believe

and in the morning

feel the marks of

deception

like rings of iron around

your trust

a splintered crown

such a silly girl

they say to your tears

this violation marks

the beginning of becoming

a woman

such as she stands

no longer pure of heart

holding her own progeny close, for soon

it will be their turn

to scatter seeds into sun

watch them grow

fitful and tall

against raining judgment

of the world

The hard as fuck girls – Candice louisa Daquin

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The hard as fuck girls

with their leopard eyes and sepia lips

set in twisted, pigtail granite

painted their hides with waterproofing

like the kind you put in the bottom of swimming pools

the muscles in their cheeks set so tight

they’d break a gobstopper with one bite

eating pickles like they were candy

no sour stomach, no need of remedy

the hard as fuck girls

survived asbestos, pinching boys and ant hills

broke their arms, laughed about the plaster itching

used youths rubber band as catapult

to get everything they required

including your heart and the french pleat dresses

my waist was too thick to fit into

they were Scarlet O’Hara before Rhett left her open-mouthed

Shirley MacLaine after she saw angels & demons

Lauren Bacall had their arching face

Katherine Hepburn the gamine grace

they didn’t like me much

I was a bleeding heart with too little guts

in fact they had no mercy for any girl

who didn’t seize the moment and say

this is what I want

FUCK the fear I’m on top

this is my day I don’t want a slice, I’ll take it all

and with lusty grinning glance ate

the cherry and the whip cream

with their little red tongues

licking the glass, round and

round til nothing more

was left

 

 

It’s all I know to do – Candice Louisa Daquin

Silent men are often admired

for their ability to endure quietly without complaint

whilst women who speak out are many times, vilified

behind their backs described as;

“that obnoxious woman who talked too much”

I lived with a silent man most of my life

he stared out of windows and when people died, his lips did not part

later on I realized it was a form of cowardice, not strength

later on, I saw how when good people say and do nothing

everything is fractured

if tomorrow I died, the people I have most admired

spoke out against tyranny and oppression

they even shared a confession or two

if they were female they were oft lampooned

if they were male they became more popular

because everyone loves a male sharer

this world is not kind to its daughters

its daughters are not kind to their sisters

it isn’t a gender battle but if it were

we have lost as we take on more, for less and less

sometimes I wonder if we had greater freedom

when our shackles were tighter

this is true of gays too, I can’t find within their collective

anything to be part of anymore

the world has grown strange and with it, myself

I heard on PBS yesterday half the world has been born

after the year of my birth, I am becoming less relevant

I could have told them I knew this already

by the way boys glances grow dimmer and there are no girls to love

for girls hesitate when you show them your heart

theirs is an unsure game of glancing round corners for prince charming

even as you stand proffering a depth they’d delight in

if they’d but give you a chance …

how ironic a man would make better match

yet you couldn’t stand, all that maleness

if I could become a creature instead of a human

I’d be a wolf

run with night pack, my loneliness obscured by trees and fur

if I could turn into a sea creature, plummet into water

or rise like a bird until clouds swallowed my shadow

for what succor is reason and what comfort, words?

when the world is a caustic, sharpened perpetual blade

and friends want friends who don’t resemble you

things you used to like, are lost in the figuring out, of how to get through

I used to fake it better and could wear a push-up bra for 12 hours without scratching

now all the edges are blurred, you left me in the fog to see my own way home

a place I no longer know, it has photos, but no key to open

I do not belong in my own picture frame

it’s been so long since I recognized an absence of pain

we used to laugh until our sides ached

sitting by the river watching the tanned folk preen and shake

their expensive personas

I liked the muddy waters best and all the out-of-the-way bars without names

I liked being nobody special and yet, I knew myself in a way I haven’t since

they took anonymity and gave it a new toll highway

when it’s my birthday save a slice for me, I’m not yet back to eating

I haven’t been made love to by someone who wanted to, in years

there’s emptiness behind the storage of sin and loose bolts, where you tried to squeeze in

I see your outline like a defeated smoke signal

we walk out to the table of earth, above the world

where you say you own nothing and have it all

my heart is heavy for all the suffering, that’s why I speak, even as you

stay silent on your boat, watching for ripples in the surface

I am beneath water, pushing air and words upward

it’s all I know to do

the curse of the confessional poet, hot whispered glares of disapproval

as they tut and turn away, their pigeon necks, bent and cooing

“she’s putting it all out there, for shame”

and you know what I think?

I think the shame is you

All Things – Kristiana Reed

All things

Little girls are made of all things,

not sugar or spice

but grass stains and butterfly wings,

cloudless days and lightning strikes,

broken hearts and beating hearts,

lemonade, cuts and bruises,

calloused hands and equal wages,

respect that’s given,

love without conditions,

honey and orange bitters,

rights, opportunities

and choices.

 

And little boys?

Well, they’re made of the same things too;

all things which make us,

me and you.

The Girl who Reads

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The world had been colourless

before she began to read.

Afterwards, photographs took on a new hue,

memories burned with the intensity

of cloudless sunshine on waves,

and every face and pair of hands

looked new, like gifts;

each palm had a story to tell,

each pair of eyes

had seen villains and queens,

or both, shipwrecks and battles

on the plains of their skin,

in their reflection,

in the seas in their chest.

 

Words taught her the weight

a voice can anchor

and how nimbly it can shift

galaxies, tears and the secrets

closed behind the doors

in a stranger’s heart.

Words taught her conviction,

how to keep promises

and set free her desire to breathe

in beauty and heartache,

in grand landscapes, forests

and hidden stairways to attics.

 

The world gained an artist

when she began to read

and write in purples, yellows and greens;

revealing to the earth and sky

and all gods above, below and in between

the power and magic

a girl can muster, harness

and lead

when given the right

to read.

 


Kristiana Reed day dreams, people watches in coffee shops, teaches English and writes. She is President of FVR Publishing, a curator on Blood into Ink, a collective member of The Whisper and the Roar & Sudden Denouement, and blogs at My Screaming Twenties. She is 24 and is enjoying the journey which is finding her voice.

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