To the girl who once told me
“things would work better for you if you weren’t such a flirt, you’re giving people the wrong idea,” looking up from your PBR in a living room not your own
With concern in your eyes, ready and willing to offer your unsolicited advice
That I should be careful who I share my grin with,
My smiles are not contraband, they don’t mark me as some kind of criminal, dealing in sexual fantasy.
In fact, my smiles are no commodity at all.
They aren’t given, they are spontaneously inspired, by a boy in the corner to our left who looks like he’d rather be reading, by the barista who hands me my chai. by all the small extraordinary moments that make up a day
They break out across my face, even in the darkest night, because I am,
because I always have been, deeply thrilled to be alive.
But I guess the joy spilling from my lips like juice from a ripe round summer peach
Makes you worried they’ll think I’m the wrong kind of girl, with legs that don’t cross and smudged eyeliner, A girl with a deep belly laugh.
Slippery as moonlight on the ocean, those girls.
And slippery is dangerous, you think
My mom was always trying to clean me up as a kid,
Always had spills on my clothes and dirt under my fingernails. I loved mess.
Hair like a rat’s nest, and beneath it
A buzzing beehive brain, asking question after question after question.
And you know what I think?
I think the girls who play in the mud and used big words like me, girls who collect rocks and run with their brothers, girls who scream and sob out loud—once they have tits and hair in between their legs, once they start to bleed red womanhood every month—I think those turn into the girls you call the wrong kind. Putas with big dreams.
And you, with your well-meaning advice that I shouldn’t emulate those girls, that I shouldn’t talk to boys about politics or feminism or travel because somebody might think I was playing too fast and loose with my words,
I think you might be afraid of me.
And I’m sorry, because I wished I lived in a world where two girls at a college house party didn’t have to be afraid of each other.
Girl on girl hate is ugly as fuck and Patriarchy with a Capital P is sitting heavy on my shoulders.
So I’m not mad at you,
More the world we both live in.
nonetheless, respectfully, with a big smile a heart wide open, with a wink and a bat of the eyelashes,