When I was a child,
I was told that what I am
and what I will become
was carved into the lines on my palms,
imprinted on my fingerprints,
orchestrated in the arrangement of the stars
on the night I was pushed into this world
bloody and screaming and beautiful.
When I was a schoolgirl,
I had it all figure out –
I knew exactly what I wanted to become.
I was nothing more than the sum of my choices,
mistakes only made me stronger,
and I would build the world back,
one sunburnt brick at a time.
But, now, I am just a tangle of
my father’s name
my to-be husband’s last name
my grandfather’s profession
their collective bank balance
my mother’s sacrifice
my grandmother’s dementia
how brittle my bones will be in 20 years
how weak my heart will be in 30 years
how fragile my mind will be in 40 years
I am all these things and nothing more.
Who I am is something that pushes
under my skin with every heartbeat.
I have no control over it.
If this is who I am,
then at what point exactly do you learn to fear
the person you will become?
When you realize you don’t need a prison stronger than your own body
or walls thicker than the ones in your mind?
I can only look at the future
through these eyes my mother gave me,
and these eyes of a different generation
are already blind to some of the dreams
I have painted into the walls of my mind.
I dream of cutting myself
on the razor-edge of a career
and I will bleed,
But the mistakes will only be my own.
I dream of a marriage
that don’t need to race against
but will walk towards.
I dream of challenging every silence,
every voice that says,
“It is not safe…
… for a girl.”
But through the coloured vision of these eyes,
I can only see myself as a version of her,
just as she is a version of her grandmothers.
I am also
the hours my mother spent
locked away from her family
strolling down Dicken’s streets
and bursting into pirate’s lairs
and though her nieces and nephews
tease her for being the boring-est of five siblings,
she just smiles,
and I know that I a version of her.
I am also
the pain of the root canal
my father’s face bloated like an old melon
his eyes drooping from painkillers
as he stumbled off to work because
“Business needs to be take care of.”
and “If I don’t do it, no one will.”
I am also a version of him.
I am a version
of my grandfather’s courage
to leave family and friends and everything he knew
to come to this city because that is “where the future will be,”
and I am songs my grandmother
remembered to sing to me.
I am my brother’s defiance of curfews
and the arch of my sister’s eyebrow.
Ever generation can only define itself
by how different it wants to be from the one before.
My body is a legacy that I share
with an ancestry of suffering and strength
my voice is never always my own,
it is part of a history
and I will always be insignificant.
I am version of them,
these wings may be borrowed,
but this flight
will be my own.
I still feel uncomfortable about putting this up online. it never feels finished, and it always feel too personal. The second half needs to be redrafted. Circling back to the same thing over and over and over again. Well, there it is. Do with it what you will.