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.

Shift – A Wise Woman Writes

Churned in chronic cloud

Wafted away

To tenebrous fray

I’m wrecked

Face down

Among ash anointed dirt

Abysmally amassing

Illness

Sadness

Death

So lonely

Don’t tell me

About reasons

Or better places

In this house

Where words are weapons

And welts wail long after

The belts been cinched

This is chaos

And I’m lost

Waiting for a day

When I’ll write pretty things

Now sweet singing is stifled

But for mournful melancholy

Seeping from my chest

Compressed

By weight

Of souls

I’ve collected

Disconnected

Rejected

Infected

Ready

For disintegration

To begin

Go ahead

Shift

See the original here https://wisewoman2016.wordpress.com/2019/04/19/shift/?fbclid=IwAR3i8B0mzf1WuFZo4-lkI471LVTmc6fRW5XQPItZ9PhmoRBgoNXrC02wC1E

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

Neither you and neither me – Candice Daquin

 

Behind closed doors I am a different animal

I eat my food protectively and with great bites

I play dress-up and pretend

I am a typical only child used to a secret life

sometimes it is lonely and sad and often after

socializing I long to rid myself of the feeling of being

filled up with too many people and too many words

the reason I have few lines on my face is

I don’t speak for hours often gallivanting in my head

stories and themes and wonders

whilst outwardly impassive and calm.

When I was younger I loved to

wear fancy dress and make up stories and climb trees

when it became the time to give those things up

I did never find a suitable replacement

if I had my way I would dance and blow up balloons

eat cake and make love and little else

a hedonist with a conscience, one friend said

you care so much and then you wish you did not

people have always remarked upon how

well together I am, with my matching colors and my greese-proof make-up that doesn’t run when I scream

but it is absolutely a mask, clowns buy in bulk

one becoming a little threadbare as I

get out of practice and grow older

my hands resemble a milk maids and the times I have howled

show in the corners of my yawning mouth like apostrophes of regret

in the past I’d just have plaited

ribbons in my hair and worn a torn chemise

all the world would have said; Adorable!

But now, damn it, I want to be liked for who I am

not that miracle of long hair obscuring

layers and layers hiding, the girl beneath

who never did like how she looked

too masculine, too strong jawed, too high forehead

as I age I see the thin-lipped hydra smile of my dad more pronounced

vanity whispers; Botox and Rejuvaderm can solve that

yet I hesitate

something unbrushed and feral in my blood saying

don’t give up being wild and seeking the rheumatic lore

thinking in my mind of all my family, how

like short-lived butterflies they bloomed young and grew old fast

in things of skin and bone

but their spirits were always wild

like they continued to roam

and I love that

it’s the one thing about my legacy I am proud

when it is quiet and I am sorrowful and piteous

I think of my grandmother stomping in her big heavy boots

lines around her mouth from dragging on her fags

taking the dog for his seven mile walk

up into the heath we clambered

her giving me tips on avoiding a receding hairline (well coconut oil didn’t fix that)

whilst I longed to sneak off for a cigarette myself

we’re a nest of night tokers until we become unwell

or if there had been a lover, a little bit of slap and tickle

I was always unrestrained and apt to be naughty

she was exactly the same that I knew

we all possess a fierce loyalty to the idea of love

even if it disappoints

you might say

we’re a cracked family of romantics

ransoming reality for a second bite of cake

I smoke in my dreams

and I kiss you with closed eyes

I don’t want to be 34 or 73

even as we all shrivel and decrease

I long to find that diving pool again and

swim underwater long enough

when I emerge I am neither you

and neither me

 

A soft closing of words – Candice Louisa Daquin

 

When you are younger, everything is a challenge

I will not let them break me / I will fight back / I will survive!

as you get older you see

or you hear

or maybe it’s just a sense

in the air

or a turning of

light

changing

clenching your heart

sorrow wells up

a pool from nowhere

upon which you see

no reflection

only the insubstantial flickering

of someone

trying to survive

skate even

on cracking surface

too thin for the weight of

all those doubts

shadows without names

time piled high

playing broken records

and though you skate fast

and nimbly

there is numbness in your effort

as if you wish to finally be

caught

submerged

ice leaching your hot discontent

with page turned days

and ironed nights

into a drowning

of all the pain captured and glazed

within your center

where no-one looks

because adults are not

children with sticky hands out

being picked up and comforted

they are supposed to be

warriors

haven’t you read the literature?

didn’t you attend therapy for

a number of years where

it was reiterated perpetually

between biscuit breaks and tepid coffee in plastic cups

like a long string of words

thisandthatthisandthat

not meaningful enough

for a necklace

about how we are the masters

of our fate

it is up to us to fight

the temptation to slit our

fucking throats

and watch as the deepest

red bled

on snowy white

surface

a contrast we ache for

in nights howl

just when the fangs of doubt

seethes loudest and

the pain of being truly

alone is not

comforted by

bouquets of self talk and

P.O.S.I.T.I.V.I.T.Y.

looking thin and translucent

in candle light

only reminder of

times broken hearts thought

they could be well and whole

just as plug is pulled

the doll wound down

we sag and droop

remembering the sore rub

of innocence and how

we believed then in futures

unstrung and awaiting

not yet familiar with

sore eyes from so many tears

even as we say

do not cry again you foolish person

oh how I hate the weakness of

someone who weeps even as they

should have known

(you fool! You fool!)

oh how they should have

known

we all

fall

down

only some of us

wish to

pick

ourselves

up

the rest may not and it isn’t

your place to judge us

if we’d rather

tear at our flesh

or hammer the senseless walls

of our former trust

until bruises bloom like

underwater flowers

and knives can cut

some of the pain from

proffered wrists though

water tinged with scarlet

is no welcome

as I stand not wishing to

continue this charade

of being invested in life

or its many fascinations

you see

or you would

if you had ever

meant half or quarter

of the lies tasting so good now

they are settled and dark on my

closed eyes

for when you shut yourself

in a box and the magician taps

one two three

it is then opened and you are

not revealed

for you have

crossed over

maybe where those who cannot

perform magic themselves

must go

to escape the erasure of

each day spent hoping

pain will give up her lament

no she does not

quit so easily then

it is ours to turn the volume

down as we sink

beneath weeds and lily pad

to distant place where before it all

churned a terrible hurt

there was the reprieve of

knowing nothing of life’s scythe

and our simple steps made in earnest

before it was clear

there is no strength in survival

beyond what we endure

it is surely about

the language of loss

and if for some

it takes them

with it

then so

it may

be

the end

with

a soft

closing of

words

don’t forget

to buy

flowers

trust women – Melita White

trust women
for they know things
like how to listen
and how to draw you out
they help you feel normal
for committing the mistakes
a normal woman makes
they help you reveal
all the shame
you learnt to conceal
long ago

trust women
to tell you the hard truth
show you new perspectives
reveal back to you
your world
one that is
clearer, fairer and kinder
or harsher, meaner, more unjust —
whichever the case may be

trust women
to protect you
beyond their professional duties
they might slip in a phrase or two
that is more sage or friendly
than it ought to be
and if you listen carefully
you will hear it
and if you choose to
you can heed it

trust women
the covert coven of women
dispersed secret members
initiated unknowingly at birth
a network of wisdom
an underground railroad
of waiting women
ready to help you
if only you would let them

trust women
you just need to like yourself
and then you can ask
for the help that is there
like spores in the breeze
it is ever-present
waiting to attach to moisture
and multiply

Melita White is founder and writer of the blog Feminist Confessional, a space that features feminist poetry, essays and personal pieces in a confessional style, with a focus on the MeToo movement. She is a composer and musician and loves making all kinds of things. https://feministconfessional.wordpress.com

Everything that matters ~ Candice Daquin

My chest squeezes

With the deep timber of you

We are laughing, the day is bright and cold

My cheeks are flush and though I don’t, I imagine I know so much about you

Like how you look when

Downcast

Your eyes lift up

Catch mine

Longer than is polite

Though you tell me

Disregard that weakness of mine

To regard you for too long

Steal your breath with my seeking

Translucency

It is fleeting and full of vanity

Not true

Yet

What is true often

Defies our promise

Or the words we use

To cover up the unavoidable

I ignore your command

My chest bests faster

An instrument gaining momento

As in dappled sun I run

To catch you ahead of me

Your slender outline

Pricking my skin senseless

We may not have said it yet

Perhaps it will hang

Unsaid but plucked

An invisible story of us

Caught in gosamer

Knowing, the moment we met

Wasn’t without significance

You try to convince me

This happens to you often

With many people, all the time

It is, practically without consequence

I don’t believe that

I hear the heaviness in your voice

Lift

As we speak

I laugh so much and feel so filled

With you

You are

That bottle of Proseco

I wasn’t able to drink

On Jan 31st

But we are now in a new year

All the rules have shifted

And you are tired of living

Without passion

And I

Feel enough for both of us

Searching in the park

Where we haunt the others proximity

I admit only to myself

How I long to draw you to me

Feel the firmament of us

Would you protest?

Say no?

Get angry?

I think I could embrace anything

But your repulsion

What I could not do

For another twelve months

And cycle of life

Haloing

Is sit politely

Next to you

Not acting

On everything

That matters