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.
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.
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?
sometimes, familial love is like:
that dying plant on your desk.
you keep pricking off browned leaves,
re-potting it, nurturing it with new soil;
hoping it will eventually flourish,
like those picture-perfect greens,
like those picture-perfect scenes.
moments after they discuss a young woman
living without food,
blaming and shaming her,
one turns to me and says:
“are you still working out?”
you hold your pain above hers
like the paint shelf on a ladder.
flaunting your moments of weakness
to see whose eyes shed tears,
whose lips begin to quiver,
when you share your loneliness,
as if your heartache weighs more
her cries for help.
as if your pain stains the walls
deeper than her blood stains hers.
you shout, “look at me, look at me,”
while she weeps in silence,
attempting to stand on her own two feet,
because you’ve washed your hands
and want onlookers to document your spiral.