First installment of Ménage à Trois on Minds Like Empty Rooms: For a belated International Women’s Day. A bit late, but forever relevant. And don’t forget, every day is Women’s Day.
Everything is everything.
you plough into me with two fingers
and i am mostly shocked
it feels like rubber against an open wound
as you begin going faster and faster
mostly i feel nothing
you search my face for a reaction
so i begin acting like the
naked women in those movies
i imitate their moans
hollow and hungry
you ask if it feels good
i say yes so quickly it sounds rehearsed
but mostly you do not notice
I love you and you love me, but you fucked me up. I know you’re proud of who I’ve become but it’s been a long time coming. Getting here was walking on eggshells and shrapnel pieces. You did the best you could Mom, and I recognise that. You didn’t want me to protrude from the crowd, or be a different sheep, to be ostracised by a society that secretly wants me submissive and dead inside. You just wanted me sweet and docile like milk and honey, you wanted me lavender-scented and waxed to perfection so that I could be beautiful and not be a target, not get hurt.
Mom, I refuse to be beautiful.
No, let me rephrase that.
I refuse to be only beautiful.
I have a body that hasn’t been my own since the men would catcall me when I would bike to school in shorts under the 30 degrees heat. It hasn’t been mine since that family reunion where Grams had something to say about whether I should eat more or less carbs, and debated with you if letting me play “boy” sports might not “ruin such a pretty face”.
Mom, you put me in too tight dresses that never fit right. I wasn’t made to fit the dress, the dress was made to fit me, can’t bound the shape and size I come in, can’t command my soul to take up less space. Mom, you put me in heels so that I could walk with confidence from the height of the personality you grew to love in me. Mom, I don’t want to walk in heels, I want to run with passion and determination, and not run away from my problems but run into the arms of the ones that I love.
Mom, you did your best to teach me how to love myself and love others, I know you did. But I still count every bite I eat and do as many laps around the block later. I’m still afraid to love without getting hurt because I forget that you and Dad is not me and whoever I choose to love. I’m so afraid to love Mom. Loving is not a sign of weakness, or less important to being a strong believer of feminist ideals. I shouldn’t have to explain why some days I want to wear a bow-tie and some days I want to wear a fit-and-flare dress with a little bit of make-up. I shouldn’t have to fake my orgasms Mom, to please people who haven’t realised I’ve been faking all along. You did your best Mom, but I’m still afraid to love wholeheartedly, whether it be myself or someone else.
I no longer want to be afraid Mom. I no longer want to be ashamed of who I am or who I love.
Mom, I love you and you love me but you fucked me up. I probably fucked you up too, all those late nights I never made it home and forgot to call, the times I’d get called in at the principal’s office and ran out of the house screaming like it was on fire. The fire wasn’t in the house, it was in me and I didn’t know what to do with it, it burned so bad.
Now I do. I use it to slowly melt the fear and the shame after years of accumulated unintentional “good intentions” on my skin. I use it to write passionate poetry, and travel, and listen to sad music on rainy days, and draw doodles in the margin of my notebooks, and daydream about the good old days.
I use it to love her.
I use it to love him.
I use it to love all of them.
And most importantly, I use it to love myself.
Mom, thank you for teaching me fire the best way you could. For teaching me how to heal and sing while washing the dishes. For teaching me how to enjoy the breeze on a midnight run to the corner store. For teaching me how to love getting my hands dirty and my hair dirty and my whole body dirty when I spend the day exploring the woods. “It doesn’t matter anyways”, you’d say, “you can get cleaned up when you’re ready”.
Mom, thank you for teaching me how to jump anyways.
You fucked me up, Mom. You fucked me up real good.
But you love me.
And I love you.
This Be The Verse
BY PHILIP LARKIN
They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.
But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.
Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.
This edition of Ménage à Trois was created for Sciences Po, campus de Reims’ putting on the Vagina Monologues.
You can also find some related slam poetry by clicking here.