Mornings and Nights

stars

Wash your hair in the morning. Let the water weave its way around your scalp; this is how to feel new again when you begin each day. This is how to turn pages quietly under the covers by flashlight; this is how to wear out a library card. This is looking up at the stars out your window every night; this is how to fall asleep to a bedtime story. This is how a boy will tease you; this is how you cradle your little sister when she falls off the slide in your backyard. This is growing up in New England; this is ice-skating outside and learning how to fall; this is coming in from the cold; this is red cheeks and snow; this is missing summer. This is how you take scissors to your hair because you don’t know any better; this is how you take scissors to your sister’s hair because you really don’t know any better; this is putting pink in your hair and pretending it’s armor; this is how you this is this is how you sink into the carpet wearing your aunt’s stilettos; this is how you watch your beautiful cousin line her eyes with makeup; this is how she tells you to never start lining your eyes with makeup because once you start you can’t stop; this is how you don’t listen to her anyway. This is how to watch a beautiful white girl on tv and wonder why she doesn’t look like you; this is how you ask your mother why she doesn’t look like you; this is why you ask your father why he doesn’t look like you; this is how you defend the definition of a family; this is the definition of a family. This is how you let a boy touch you; this is how you hate letting him touch you; this is how you like letting him touch you; this is what it means to be a woman. This is how to get straight A’s; this is how to give in to perfectionism; this is how to give yourself high standards. This is how a boy in a car yells bitch at you on the street; this is how to let him; this is how to feel ok because at least he’s saying something to you; this is what to say when someone who asks for a happy ending; this is how to smile at the old men in the golf course asking for a happy ending; this is how to bite your tongue and clench your fists beneath the counter; this is how to love your little sister. This is how to want to put pink in her hair and not know how; this is how to trust in her to run at the world and know how; this is how to feel helpless when she comes to you crying. This is how to not hurt the one who made her cry; this is how to defend the definition of family; this is how to stop the bleeding. This is how to cross your legs on the bus and watch the man across you spread his knees; this is how to forget how to take up space; this is how to remember; this is how to make yourself small; this is how to hold pepper spray when you’re alone under dim streetlights; this is how to look over your shoulder; this is what to say to your mother for giving you pepper spray before you go to college. This is wanting success but not knowing what it means; this is not knowing how to fail and be okay; this is pretending you know what you’re doing; this is wondering what happiness means; this is pretending you know what you’re doing; this is not remembering what the stars look like; this is pretending you know what you’re doing. This is forgetting to wash your hair in the morning; sometimes, the pink still fades away.

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