if we talked about anxiety then,
the way we do now,
in our separate lives,
in different cities;
with our separate pals,
in different threads,
would our worlds have continued
instead of disrupting over
is it still “giving up”
if the choice is made
with good intention?
how hard it must be for you
to dress yourself in your best,
thinking your charm, broad shoulders
and your expensive taste
will make the world bend their knees,
let go of personal beliefs
and fall into you and over you,
fall for whatever
you want us to believe is truth.
how hard it must be for you
to laugh and flirt out of error,
to give up your seat,
and be the “gentleman,”
simply to bypass glass ceilings,
that were never even installed
for people like you.
you’re not used to people like me,
questioning your activities,
so you spend more time wishing me
a good morning, a lovely weekend,
thinking it’s working,
thinking you’re as smart as your suit.
a crooked smile,
a few shiny teeth,
but you still haven’t figured out
that while i’m sipping on tea,
saying, “have a good night,”
i’m furiously analyzing
how you secured a job
at a higher level than me.
you invest in your business relationships
the same way you buy your belts,
leather stitched together
by an underpaid worker
in a third world country,
all to make you feel important.
and you’ve never had to use your brain
crying doesn’t make me a sissy,
it just makes you uncomfortable.
when you should be addressing my upset,
you shame my actions, instead.
if the hand holding my house keys
sparkled with a wedding ring,
you would have been the first one
to call all your in-laws,
boasting with pride.
i have all but a marriage license,
and my space is now my sin;
your full-time embarrassment.
untouched and stale,
crusty and undesirable.
hard pink icing
on chalky chocolate-chips.
cream cheese filling, once gooey,
a bold, cold contrast,
now smushed like the
moody clementine peel
renting the space
at the bottom of your bag.
this is what you sound and feel like,
when you don’t invest in
an unwanted, deserted cake.
a slab of dry, choking dough.
a wall of rotting egg yolks.
you had the potential to empower,
until you let it slip:
you prefer titles and looks,
like sprinkles and candles,
you prefer the sound of your voice,
like a singing, cringing hallmark card,
over growth and working smart.
still, even though you’re deep,
in the shallow cardboard box,
opened by colleagues just curious
enough to see what you are,
you’re a mockery of a treat,
and yet the system says
you’ll forever make more than me.
gender pay gap.
in time, you will not fear the shape of your face,
or the hair on your arms,
or the bump and crook of your nose.
soon, you will not wait for his approval,
because you will learn the only acceptance you need is your own.
in a few years, you will get better at laughing at yourself,
ignoring when others laugh at you.
you will build barriers around things you know will hurt.
i know you will learn to say no, or yes,
and not feel guilty.
the world doesn’t end for you,
you’ll want to create for it, with it, in it.
spending money and time
on a white gold never-ending circle,
a symbol of everlasting eternity,
wrapped around the finger
most connected to the heart,
should not be a one-sided
purchase or decision,
regardless of how big the diamond.
“does ‘corporate’ just mean a place
where people talk about their juice cleanses
and the number of times they almost ate a donut?”
it sounds like it,
so i will sit here redefining the word,
informing my colleagues that i ate a donut on sunday,
filled with hazelnut cream.
once, a boy told our classmates we had done things we hadn’t
because i broke up with him.
he said i was good with my tongue;
though my tongue had never touched him
or his greasy braces.
we “dated” for a few weeks; i don’t count it.
when his lies didn’t catch on as fast as they could’ve,
he started telling people things that were really true:
“she has hairy arms. really hairy arms.”
someone pushed up the left arm of my green fleece uniform sweater
and said, “woah, he’s right.”
i waxed my arms for a long time,
naired them and scarred them,
got grounded for making the house smell like chemicals;
never wore t-shirts, either.
do you see what happens when we automatically
give boys more power?