Behind your eyes

DSJPQ56W0AEq2Dl.jpg largeWhen I stopped dancing full-time and entered delayed puberty

my breasts swelled like a lily in a pond

at first it was kinda cool getting attention from boys

then I hated how they jutted out and called ahead

like car headlights

slowly tracking, flashing, blinding

in those days of Flashdance and Fame

the three L’s; leggings, leg warmers, leotards

loving in the afternoon, running to studio

dancing with the smell of sex on my stomach

other girls ate salad and cardboard

threw up in the bathrooms

bound their breasts with cloth

I admired their long necks and sinewy thighs

the tightness of their waists and flat chests

my own puberty felt like something out of control

foreign and unwanted to me

I wanted the lean girl of childhood back

the one who climbed trees with one hand

hung upside down

eating apples

there was too much

attached to owning breasts and thighs

even his circle of me dimmed

looking at some of my friends

the ones with slimmer hips and shoulders

still in their girl-doll-bodies

I with my woman seeping out

became a thing of disgust, or so I thought

when I carried his child, my breasts grew even more

wetting the front of my nightshirt with wasteful milk

his eyes took in the sum of me and disgusted

he looked away

always preferring me hairless and skinny

like a girl not a woman

no make-up, wearing little thin things

someone he could control

so I had a sickness in myself

of warped images, desire and lost babies

starving myself beyond the pale

it wasn’t hard, I had little to lose

soon I ran for buses on the breath of feathers

circling my waist he’d say

you remind me of Audrey Hepburn

being tiny, I decided it had been a dream

no child, no loss, no lack of desire

he sexed me every night until sate

leaving bruises on my legs and arms like

vampire bites

but always turning his head away

like he was thinking of someone else

when he left me for that girl

who was dark-skinned and voluptuous and healthy

I realized being a little girl didn’t keep me safe at all

after that I never gave myself away

to people with eyes that looked straight through me

or hands that grabbed to own

a piece of me or what I possessed

though I had no idea what

that was

lying by myself in a small room

smoking hashish in the dark listening to

Tunnel of Love on repeat

I tried to turn my heart to glass

only my body wanted to be awoken from her slumber

a virginal boy, with no grace and long hair

filled my nights and my bed for a time

I taught him how

to roll the perfect joint

and study, where time ended and pleasure began

once he asked

why do you bind your breasts every morning?

they are beautiful

I turned from him

my skin burning with secrets

and did not ever reply

for who can disclose the litany of pain?

as it lies

like a sleeping child

behind your eyes?

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In the heat of the night

they told her

hot-flashes are bad

she couldn’t see how

feeling hot was an infuriation

she was always cold

when the first hot flash came

unbidden and sudden

like a white burning sword

the night she had sinned

by eating a little pizza

she believed at first it was retribution

for her transgression or

the heat of the night

but even the cicadas didn’t agree

the night was balmy and smooth

not on fire

and she

before her time

being too young

osteoporosis and heart disease a danger

for the youthful who inherit menopause early

the bed drenched

her arms feeling like wires of fire

inhabited them

throat sore and dry, wild eyed

she paced the cool floor

shaking and changing

hot to cold

this is too soon

her calcium levels complained

this is too early

her rapid heart beat whispered

not yet, surely not yet

the elasticity in her breasts and neck prayed

we do not

we are not

ready

for rapid ageing

she had noticed

the parchment quality of her hands

dried up like no rain had touched the sand

she had noticed her lack of desire and anxious thrum

thinking it was life

doing its worst as usual

when you experience what you read about

it’s always different in person

now it was her turn

to look back on a life

not yet nearly finished

as if she were further down

the endless conveyer belt already

skip love, marriage, pregnancy, first child

first lost tooth, baby puke

go straight to crone-hood

she told herself

this doesn’t mean your hair will thin

this doens’t mean your genitals will dim

this doesn’t mean your breasts will plunge

this doesn’t mean your waist will swell

this doesn’t mean you’ll never sleep well

this doesn’t mean you’ll catch fire

walking past sulpher

but deep down she knew

yes this is the precipise of all those things

wish I had a robust career to make up for

losing too soon

the other boons of life

wish I had a child in my arms

to comfort me when

I feel it’s over already before I found motherhood

this is the torch of an end

maybe a beginning but

of what?

she didn’t know

anymore than realizing

how a hot flash is not just two words

easily dismissed

but a raging foaming sea of fire

she stood

in the quiet bedroom

burning mute

a novel odd feeling for one

accustomed to saying

please turn down the air conditioning I’m frozen!

she had an sudden desire

to stand beneath a huge fan

to dive into ice

to peal off her skin

and in so doing lose

the disapointment of this too soon

I’m not ready

who is?

who is ready to say goodbye

to hopeful youth and dreams?

and they who are older than her

will say tomorrow when she confides

her bad luck

oh it’s not forever and

there’s a lot to look forward to

yes

she knows that

and still

there is a girl behind her

the shell from whom she has molted

a crysalis girl

dried out and sillouetted

against the fire

she is sad that she is not

still waiting for the moment

she will inherit herself

and must instead find a way to quench

this new

and terrible

desire

for

ice

with

her morning

coffee