Hollis Wong-Wear

My Girls

MY GIRLS

published in COURAGE: DARING POEMS FOR GUTSY GIRLS (2014) 

every night for three months
i dreamt about guns.
thick, sweltering
sawed off and anonymous
no matter where i was they found me/ shot me dead
until my alarm went off
and i woke up gasping
like morning was the afterlife

the dreams only stopped
when i stopped running
stared my fate in its barreled face
and got accustomed to the dark that followed

my girls and i,
we get accustomed to things
and in school
it's no fun to be the token feminist
and work is unbearable
if you're not cool with harassment
even though you know better
it is what it is
and you learn when to keep your mouth shut
even when you know it's wrong
so that things will just go by quicker

to be a girl means to flow with it
skin soft from being trapped in currents
to be a girl is to know
that life is suffering,
and also first impressions
bearing weight
while constantly trying to lose it
to wear high heels
and lower your voice

to be a girl means
to say yes more often than not
because resistance is just more pressure
when you're an air chamber embodied

and us girls, we are our bodies
more than anything

and sometimes, we dream about guns

there is death in loaded things
and we know how intimate a gun can be
how a gun can smile and give you a drink
or be your best friend, or say it loves you
a gun rarely catches you in a shadowed alleyway
but rather in your own bedroom
safety off, and we know
that guns fire for bad reasons
and for stupid reasons
and sometimes guns didn't mean it
but we also know how shrapnel stays
and we weren't born with weaponry
so we gotta be smart

but some of the smartest girls i know
become bodies in the moment
our voices go velvet
swallowed and stored
in the pink smallness of our throats
too afraid to pull the trigger of our tongue
our fingers in half-fist as
we grasp to catch what’s shed
we allow those thresholds in our heads to give
because our bodies were made to give
lines get crossed while we’re
wondering where the poetry in all this is

but there are no pretty words
or bow-tied explanations
my girls, they tongue the word rape
like a barb
piercing again and again

it is much easier to dream about guns
holding them in our small hands
one we can claim, and aim,
to fantasize about the heft of them,
the cool steel, the small shells,
the death in them

call it penis envy
or call it any means necessary
cuz we all know how the system makes a victim suspect
you could have stopped it
and it's your fault, your fault
you are a girl,
your body
a fault
seismic and unsolvable
a deep rift
for a gun to fit

us girls are expected
to smell like rosebuds
but more often we waft blood

my girls aren't flowers
my girls and I,
we’re no metaphor
we are our bodies
soft, leathered and ours
who gotta stay smart


& I refuse to be a holster for
some man’s gun.