Tuesday, April 21, 2009


I’ve been thinking,
for various reasons,
about how ideas of deservingness
impact women’s lives.
About how,
we fashion ideas
of what women
do and don’t deserve.
I notice
that we deserve the violence enacted against us daily
because of
What we wear
Where we go
How much we drink
With whom we socialize.
I notice
that we deserve the violence enacted against us daily
because our identity is presumed to be
a lie
I notice
that we deserve the violence enacted against us daily
because our breasts develop
before middle school
because we stay
in abusive relationships
(Though no one has worked out a formula for how we can assure our safety when we leave)
because we didn’t deserve to be mothers
because we aren't "citizens"
because we don’t deserve to be heard.
I notice
I notice
I notice
so much
too much.
And then she posed a different type of question
about what we deserve.
Knowing what you know now,
she asked,
“What would you do
for the little kid you used to be?”
Write it down, she said.
And I tried.
But when I thought about
what that little girl deserved,
my tears flowed faster
than my fingers could.
But I had to try
for that little girl.
I think that I would just sit next to her
So that she didn’t feel so lonely
So that she didn’t feel compelled to look down,
See if her chest had become the dark, achy, empty space
It sometimes felt like.
I think I would tell her to scream
To rant and rave
and make a spectacle of herself
Because her silence had not protected her.
But mostly
I think
I would wrap my arms around her,
A shield of sorts,
Because what she deserved
What we all deserve
Is some sort of
From all the things
They tell us
we deserve.


Kimberly said...

Deeply touching! Brought tears to my eyes.

Unknown said...

Elle--I'm so sobbing right now. thank you SO much for sharing, your words are so important to my heart, to my own little girl--we all deserve that love don't we? we all deserve that tenderness, that gentleness.

how much I love that we are so strong now, that we can be so vulnerable--even after all we have been through.

love you so much

elle said...

@kimberly thank you

@bfp girl, i read your post every night since you put it up, and wanted to comment, but I'd cry so hard. so last night, when the words came, in fits and bursts-- not necessarily poetic, but that's how they came-- i wrote them, finally.

i love you and i hope you know how very much you've meant to me, to my growth, to my understanding.

mrs. o said...

Elle, I have no words right now, just tears. I love You.

Kate said...

I second mrs. o.

arma said...

Beautiful post. Found you via Shakesville. Love your blog!

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