She always knew she was a girl
by the way older women treated her
their higher standards expected
than if she were a boy
for boys … could climb trees and expose their underwear
while she was scolded and told not to be ‘a little harlot’
boys came barreling in full of spunk and fury
exhibiting their mirth with muddy feet
to ladies who smiled indulgently and patted their
glancing over at her, with disapproving eyes
and a tut of the chin which said; “I hope you are not
going to track that mud into the kitchen and if you do
be prepared to clean it up. What kind of girl climbs
trees and gets herself full of dirt?”
The unspoken and the spoken
those days she sought sympathy when her heart
felt like bursting
responses varying from; “maybe you didn’t ‘try hard
enough, you should apply yourself next time” to “don’t
go on about your problems so much, we all have problems
you are not the only one!” While they fretted and discussed
the poor boy whose horrible girlfriend left him
how grief stricken he was afterward, they could do nothing
it was so hard to watch
not difficult at all to watch her fall
female expectations a bar far too high
even for a gymnast
whilst boys ran beneath it
in spastic freedom
from the quiet exceptionalism of their gender
through the eyes of a woman
she learned early on
to keep her thoughts and wishes to herself
for each vulnerability would be handled roughly
turned against her like a shard of glass
she learned, to do for herself as the boys
were fed, dressed, coveted, admired, flattered
and grew fat and indulgent on it
rather like farm yard pigs
she grew strong in that way pain lends
a thin weed
trying to survive by the side of a busy road
filled with fumes and cars belching their poison
yet she knew if she wanted to survive
she could not walk along that road
by herself, taking short cut
through fields, because that’s where
women were raped
among thorny bushes, hands reaching out
grasping for them, hungry and snarling
she was told it was her fault if she
succumbed and her fault if she died from
fighting them off and her fault if she was
there when she shouldn’t have been
but nobody said it was their fault
or asked them to explain
why after being fed, clothed, petted and cossetted
to make women their victim
no, that nobody had an answer for
maybe if they did, they would say
women did this to them, poor dears
it’s not the fault of a man! He was spoilt
and that’s a woman’s fault! She didn’t
teach him correctly, he had no choice!
And all the women who gave her
cross looks when she came in with her knees
scuffed from climbing a wall or when she ran
ungainly across the lawn and they chided her
for being ‘unladylike’
smiled at the fattened calf and said
“oh my daughter would be so lucky
to marry a man like him! If only she
tried, a little harder.”
26 thoughts on “The rhyme of girls who skin their knees”
A stirring tale of how discrimination and gender bias is foisted upon our childhood. ❤
I wish this was a tale of girls in a distant unrecognisable past,
I can identify, in my own way. I was always climbing trees, laying in the woods, fording the river, building dams in the creek, and always always barefoot with a book in my hand. How many evenings I came in, dirty and with twigs or moss in my hair. Clean yourself up!! I suppose I’ll never measure up. 💕
This is fucking brilliant. From one once bloody kneed girl to another.
We always were the same in that way! You and I.
Thank Goddess you won’t! We love you JUST THE WAY YOU ARE that’s why you are my snow sister.
Yes so true and right my friend
I wonder, if I had had a sister, would I have noticed the difference, and if so, what would I have understood of it beyond, “That’s the way it is.”?
Reblogged this on cabbagesandkings524 and commented:
TheFeatheredSleep – Boys will be boys. Girls will be wrong.
A great poem, but a sad commentary on the way women were treated! Hopefully times are changing!
Smita expressed it correctly! Great piece, Candice. It definitely resonated with me as I, too, was labeled a “non-traditional girl” growing up. ❤
Your poem is speaking out on behalf of so many others.❤️
Thank you dearest Ali
Reblogged this on johncoyote and commented:
Outstanding words shared by a talented writer.
Outstanding words shared dear friend. I always liked the brave girls. Ain’t afraid of nothing. Good afternoon from Michigan.
My soul is still vibrating with remembered double standards and solitary moments of pain. Yet, somehow we grow up to love and support each other, the men and boys in our lives, and hold ourselves upright through years of work. Ironing out wrinkles where we can. And I still skin my knee sometimes. 🙂
I love this response! I agree! Although I think we need to do more work supporting each other as women but aside that I love the idea of you still skinning your knee, hopefully the girl in the apple tree forever!
hello from unusually snowy Texas! Thank you so much my friend!
So appreciative of your reblog dearest John
Same here in Michigan. 10 degrees and snow. I need a Spring day and you are welcome my dear friend.
You are welcome my dear friend.
Absolutely, always me. Always be you!
I’m a big snow fan so it’s glorious even without power but I totally hear you and know it can get too much … I wish you Spring and beauty ahead my friend
Thank you dear poet.
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