If You Dare by Adriana Parker

Listen to me if you dare:
I became a woman one score minus five
They dare say you aren't a woman until your hips spread
Until someone grips your thighs and your petals push open with drops of dew
I felt the pain in the pits of my womb and a few tears fell because I never said yes, but I did not
say no
So many nights I was pinned to his bed
Those episodes dare rewind and replay in my head like childhood movies on tape
And for years, I could not form my mouth to say rape
Through carpet burn and sore limbs and hands impacting my face
I found weakness was more fitting
I gave into him because so badly I wanted to be woman
"Keep your respectability intact," they say
"Open your head and not your legs"
"Don't drag your name in mud, you can never get back that porcelain shine"
They dare say broken hymens aren't diamonds
But I became coal under pressure
Waiting to exhale to free myself from the grasp of my past
I dared to shout and kick him out
And don't you know I cut strings and let loose
Felt the rhythm on the dancefloor we call life
Now moving my feet in sync to songs in the key of free
But it still hurts sometimes
There are nights I still cry
Breathe heavily but shallow like an elephant on my chest
Panic attacks
Bloodshot eyes
And there are 1 in 5 women that will be like me
Are we only worth our bodies?
That statistic used to silence us spread stitches about our mouths

Listen to me if you dare:
For 7 years I was the girl that was not pretty enough
Not small enough
Not warm enough for summer time
My entire adolescence I refused to look in a mirror
Too much baggage about my waist
Too many blemishes on my face
I just wanted a complexion so clear I'd be as radiant as the sun
Pants smaller than double digits
Friends like that fit jigsaw rubber cemented in its frame
I was the girl with dark eyes and even darker clothes but my black card declined
My blackness did not ring up on the registers of my peers
Too white for the black kids and too black for the white kids they would tell me and I was alone
Alone and stuck in my thoughts
Depression set off then
I remember days I would purge until my throat was raw
Tears festered in my eyes while bile bubbled out my mouth
Those were not my glory years
I stared at pill bottles, longing to stuff them in my cheeks because I could not fathom how
anyone could miss me...
That's when I fell in love with poetry.
Put my pain on pen and paper and sighed in relief because I refused to watch my wrist bleed
Laid down razors on my bedsheets
And I struggled. Struggled so hard I did not think I would rise some mornings.
My feelings festered up like unsucked sap in sycamore trees
I screamed out my angst and sorrows through pop-punk bands and bloomed like a concrete
Awkward and painful

Listen to me if you dare:
I am a Black girl who considered suicide
I am a Black girl who considers suicide sometimes
I am a Black girl still searching for the ends of her rainbow whose love is too forgiving to have
thrown back in her face
Some mornings it pains me to get out of bed
And nights I cry until my body begs for air I never thought all my sorrows would come to a head
My first year I never felt so useless
I was shunned by my so-called friends
I had nowhere to run
And they laughed and sang songs down the hallway while I spent countless nights wanting to
take my life
I recall the first time I called a suicide hotline
Poured out my pain in screams but the room was silent
I was untouched by God
Don't touch me
Don't talk to me
Do not look at me...
For months that seemed like eternity I felt so vile floating back to the pieces of men I crawled in
and out of bed with
And still my darkness almost swallows me whole sometimes
Depression like the manhole with 1,369 light bulbs...

If you dared to listen, I would not feel...
I would not be, invisible...



Originally published on February 30, 2016
by Adriana Parker, an editor on The Bridge