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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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