my roommate one year in college would say of my smallness that any man who found me attractive had a trace of the pedophilic & i would shrink newly girled twenty-one with my eyebrows plucked to grownup arches sprouting back every three weeks in sharp little shoots already men have tried to steal me in their taxis corral me into alleyways of the new city already the demand for my name though no one ever asks how old i am though no one ever did i feel creaking & ancient in the repetition of it all i feel my girlhood gone for generations my entire line of blood crowded with exhausted women their unlined faces frozen in time with only a thickness about the waist a small shoot of gray to belie the years i make up names to hand to strangers at parties i trim years from my age & share without being asked that i am fifteen seventeen & no one blinks no one stops wanting i am disappeared like all the girls before me around me all the girls to come everyone thinks i am a little girl & still they hunt me still they show their teeth i am so tired i am one thousand years old one thousand years older when touched
Copyright © 2019 by Safia Elhillo. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on February 13, 2019, by the Academy of American Poets.
About this Poem
“This poem is a section from a much longer poem I’m working on exploring girlhood and shame. For this particular section, I was thinking about youth and how it’s sexualized, how my own girlhood was often so devoid of youth because of the ways I was made to feel aware of my body through a predatory gaze. I imagine my speaker here to be a little younger than I am now, a young girl whose youth is fetishized by others while being made impossible for her to experience.”
Safia Elhillo is the author of The January Children (University of Nebraska Press, 2017).
Date Published: 2019-02-13
Source URL: https://poets.org/poem/1000