Startling Poetry: Like a Woman

Like a Woman by Annabelle Fern Praznik

 

 

Pretty little baby,
Breaks the surface of a big blue pill,
Water cascading down her white swimming suit in tiny torrents of sunlit dew.

She’s putting on a show for them.

Their scaly snouts sit above the surface of the pool.
Their heavily lidded eyes watch her hungrily.

Her new breasts are hidden beneath padded cups,
And drawstrings are tied in bows at her hips.

She hates her breasts,
She hates her hips.
Like fruit ripening with risk,
Like fish pulling her toward choppy tides.

She is told that she should now behave a certain way.
“Like a woman,” they say.

She donates her boy shorts to Good Will, along with her bicycle helmet, her plastic dinosaurs, and her converse shoes.

She bleaches her hair,
She puts gloss on her lips,
And she lathers her body with Bain De Soleil, lying beneath the sun like a sugarcoated ham.

The crocodiles are watching her and they are starving.

She flips through her camera, deleting photographs of herself that she dislikes,
Telling herself, “you are not enough.”

And she feeds herself to the crocodiles.

But why?
Human beings are not a species who sit idly in the water.
It is not within our nature to submit ourselves as prey.
No, it is not within our nature at all.

She was taught this.
You mustn’t blame her.
It isn’t her fault.
She was only trying to behave a certain way.

“Like a woman.”

Who lies flat while bacteria-laden teeth feast upon her flesh,
Infecting her with hate,
Confirming her belief that she is not enough.

But one day, pretty little baby
Breaks the surface of a big blue pill,
Shaking off the crocodiles,
And planting herself on land;
Where she will grow like a winter flower,
Blooming despite defeating elements.

And she will learn to love her breasts, for they nourish her child with milk.
And she will learn to love her hips, for they cradled her womb while her child grew within it.
And she will learn those crocodiles are never satiated, while she is ever full.

And she will tell her daughter,
“Pretty little baby,
I have raised you like a woman,
Far from the water,
Far from the starving,
And when you see the crocodiles, you will come to your mother, and we will laugh at them.”

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