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Poem- A Girl Shouldn’t Expect

by Crystal Torres on May 12, 2017

“Looking good,” he says
leaning out over the rolled down window
It doesn’t make me feel pretty
I don’t look back
Don’t engage
Just keep walking
Don’t let them see me listening
Usually the car keeps going
Just keep going
Sometimes it turns around
Another round
“Hey baby, where you going in such a hurry?”
Where am I going?
Is this the safest route?

Maybe I should stop for coffee
or fast food
I think I have a craving for well-lit
Wait it out
It’s only a few dollars
and a handful of time
There are worse things to lose
A girl shouldn’t expect to be safe walking alone
Don’t engage
but don’t be a bitch
Smile without making eye contact
Seem grateful
A girl shouldn’t expect to be safe moving through crowds
The car is large and loud
and still between us
I can always hear the car’s approach
It is not a hand in the crowd
anonymously grazing all the wrong parts
belonging to nobody
when I turn around
my cheeks burning
rage
humiliation
defeat
I hate those hands
wandering stray like dogs
reminding me
A girl shouldn’t expect to be safe
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The best magic trick I ever learned was how to be invisible. A person can suck their own light in, like holding their breath. It’s not really magic. I’m still there in photos, and reflective surfaces. It’s just that I know how to let people look through me the way they look past homeless people. I just have to carry myself like an unpleasant truth, a sob story waiting for an invitation to overshare, something no one wants to see. I curl my posture forward like a question mark, eyes fixed downward, nothing to see. It’s slower, and I don’t see as much watching the sidewalk under my feet, but nobody sees me either. As I’ve gotten older, heavier, it’s even easier to go unseen.

It’s just, I’m kinda over silly magic tricks. Life is short and I want to live what’s left of mine with my eyes and my arms wide open. I’m learning to hold my shoulders back again and smile like I’m trying to breathe the whole world in. And I’m remembering what it’s like to be seen and it’s terrifying.

Strangers are trying to hit me up at grocery stores, asking for my number, asking me to put their numbers in my phone. Strangers are pulling over offering me rides. I’m a tomboy who’s always made friends easily with guys, I’m used to having guys think I’m cool. I’m still a little freaked out at the idea of guys thinking I’m cute though. I’ve been a secret girl the same way I’ve been a secret latina, which is to say, I don’t look it, but it’s totally in my DNA.

I’m standing my ground. I won’t go back to being invisible so often. I’ve never been a girly girl, but I’ve been a girl. There are some things I enjoy about it, some things I don’t. This poem is about some of the things in the latter category. Strangers are a little scary, but I’ve got this. That’s all.

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Some Days

by Crystal Torres on May 4, 2017

I lay the pillows in a vertical line in my bed. It gives me something to cuddle up against, but the pillows cannot hold me, squeeze me tight, convince me that everything will be okay when I’ve had another fitful sleep broken up by nightmares. Sometimes I’d give anything for a big hug and a kiss on the forehead. My pillows cannot do that.

My car needs an oil change, and some cosmetic repairs, and a smog check. My yard needs the weeds pulled, and the aquaponics system built up, and some redirecting of where the water flows when it rains. There are things that I need to handle regarding my dad, my bills, my life. There are leftovers I’m tired of eating, but don’t want to waste. I need to buy milk. I still haven’t started the final project that is a significant chunk of my grade this semester. I’m on top of the urgent projects at work, but not where I should be with the too many things I need to get around to.

Which is all to say, adulting is hard. I don’t know how ya’ll keep up. Or why I suck at this. I feel like there is always more to-do list than there is to-do time. Sometimes, I want someone to tag into the ring. So that even when I quit and can’t handle any more, progress is still being made. I want someone else on my team. I want the pep talk, the, “it’ll be okay,” and the, “we got this.” 

The thing is, I’ve been in relationships before. I’ve been knee deep in commitment and still not had an arm around me when I couldn’t sleep, someone else to tag into the ring, the pep talk when I needed it. I want to be loved, but I would rather be loved well than loved soon. I will take the loneliness of being alone, over the loneliness of being in the wrong relationship any day. I will not settle for anything less than amazing going forward.

I am not easy to love. When I am most in need of love, I tend to fold in on myself, become invisible. When I have someone in my bed and I have nightmares and I need an arm around me, I tend to slip out of the bed quietly, go cry alone on the couch. When I am overwhelmed, it’s even more overwhelming to try to break it down into pieces that someone else could help with. I don’t trust other people with my weakness and vulnerability. I’m all or nothing and I’m stubborn. I’m fine. I’m always fine.

I’ll break it down, set my priorities for today, get maybe half of them done, start over tomorrow. Despite the slow progress, I’ll look back a year from now and realize I’ve moved forward, no matter how much it felt like standing still. And some days I’ll need a hug that I can’t get, but I’ll keep saving my kisses anyway, because I’m all or nothing and I’m stubborn. I’m not always sure where I’m going, but it’s gonna be amazing and I’m gonna get there. It’s just, some days it’s harder than others.

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