Things my mother taught me


Hold in your stomach
He only does that
because he likes you
They do not care
how smart you are
You look so pretty
in green


That girl, she’s had sex
You can tell
by how she walks
the sway in her hips
the way she flashes her teeth
That girl is cheap


Cigarettes make you thin
Thinness makes you young
Youth makes you desirable
Desire makes you relevant


There is something deeper
—more profound—
in the things that go unsaid
But until we learn to listen
what we remember
is the words


Joy comes from
the wind in your hair
the kiss of sunshine
the curve of a lip
the heat of a stranger’s gaze


The stories we tell ourselves

Featured mage by Dani Géza from Pixabay

4 thoughts on “Things my mother taught me

  1. jenmierisch says:

    This was familiar and relatable from the very first line… even my feminist mom used to say this stuff. Stanza 3 gave me chills. I wanted some kind of transition between 3 and 4 to indicate the switch from “things my mom said” to the narrator’s own reflections.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. innatejames says:

    The first and second stanza, or rather the leap between what adults tell children and what people say about teenage women is telling me a lot about the narrator’s POV here. And I love that you bring the unsaid up again.

    Liked by 1 person

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