Chapter 1


i) he told me i could never be a writer,
said i didn't have the guts it took to spill out words coated in diamonds to tell a good story,
someone else's story,
he said i could never tell my own story because i was "too nice,"
because i didn't know how to fight back,
"learn how to fight back
why won't you fight back
please fight back
motherf♥cking fight back."

ii) sometimes i look at my hands and i wonder what is wrong with me,
i wonder why i don't believe in violence,
i wonder why the notion of violence makes my stomach turn and makes fire rise in my throat,
i wonder why even though i don't believe in violence, i still walk home with my keys between my knuckles.

iii) and i can't count the amount of times i have been asked
"but why do women stay in abusive relationships,"
"but why do women go back to their abusers?"
not once in almost sixteen years of life has anyone hastened to ask
"but why do men abuse women,"
because obviously it is the woman who was at fault,
so she should have taken it upon herself to leave.

iv) there is a row of five boys who sit behind me in geography.
fifteen years old, they trade stories of their se+ual encounters somewhat louder than necessary,
so i hear every word about the "leggy whore" they saw in the leather jacket who refused to f♥ck them.
last week their topic of choice was dating,
and i heard how one should only date girls with eating disorders.
"they're pretty they're skinny they're good in bed they're inexpensive they won't eat all your food" stop.
eating disorders are not desirable,
girls should not have to turn themselves inside out for you to find them "desirable,"
and if you call me a skinny slut one more time i swear to god i will choke you with the fire that churns in my stomach every time you talk about me.

v) my mum told me that i have to be pretty.
boys like girls with blood,
take tobacco hearts into your mouth, chew them up and spit out the veins.
make them look, make them stare,
but be respectable.
don't wear that skirt,
don't wear that shirt,
stop speaking in poetry, boys don't want a riddle, they want something simple they can rip to shreds,
and god so help me,
my daughter will be something simple they can rip to shreds.
she says i have to be skinny,
that boys like long legs and tiny wrists,
and thank god i'm tall.
gotta be brave.
gotta die young.

vi) for the last time,
i am not an object to be held.
i am a motherf♥cking firecracker,
made in the shadow of the sun.
my veins are full of starlight, not blood,
and i will not apologise for the sun in my knuckles,
and i will not curl my spine just so that you can feel tall.
understand this-
i will not compromise my existence because aspects of it make you uncomfortable.
"your skirt is too short,
your shirt is too low,
you shouldn't wear heels, you're tall enough already,
don't run in a sports bra,
don't run in shorts,
don't wear leggings,
don't wear tight clothes."
you will not shake the stardust from my bones.
this is my body and what i wear is a party that you were not invited to,
so control yourself and stay away.

vii) "but it's distracting."
close your f♥cking eyes.


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