your scarf ?" they
I pull on the ends of my hair willing it to grow faster.
are in my peripheral,
watching me, watch myself.
I see their
I pretend not to notice
painted across their
brilliant brown skin
it is almost too much for me.
The stones they
to bust through flesh.
I let them
know how hard it is to be a woman.
That is why they
whisper amongst themselves,
I hear one say “Her body wasn’t made for that shirt”
I look down at the popping chest buttons on my black button up,
and the red lace of my bra is shyly peaking through.
What was my body made for?
Except this shirt.
The thing is,
I wore this shirt because a boy in my Organic Chemistry class said he liked it.
I should say something,
but my throat is too tight,
and my knees are too light.
can tell by the paint on my nails that my forehead hasn’t touched the ground
facing east in at least a week.
The truth is
it’s been months,
acknowledging it makes me gag.
I wipe runaway mascara from my upper right lid.
My makeup is too perfect to be concerned with covering a face that strangers
press their tongues into, trying to compliment.
"They can see that you need the flattery to survive"
My father says;
"You shouldn’t rely on the slick mouths of men to make me feel
and their faces are hard lined,
I want to SCREAM!, I wan to yell at them,
I want to unzip my skin and walk out of it like it’s this shirt that doesn’t
fit me right.
That, would really give them something to whisper about,
then maybe, they
could blame my waywardness on something else,
on misfiring neurons or chemical imbalances or madness.
But I’m too afraid they’d
think I’m possessed and tell their
Then who would marry me?
The women’s bathroom at my school smells like piss, vomit and desperation.
I can’t think over the smell.
I brush past them
on my way out.
The women’s bathroom is a cesspool,
a watering hole,
where news is shared,
and securities are inverted.
I hear their eyes,
praying for me.
pray that my hair will fall out
and my eyes will drop out of my head.
know better than I that it’s better to be ugly than to never see Jennah.
are my sisters,
and I love them
for the sake of God.
By Key Ballah-