contortionist girl | a poem

you tell me that everything about me is wrong

you look at me

and only see yourself

that was the whole point

to put yourself into me

bury the child

and complain about who you’ve not become

and I incorporated your half-lives


I learned all your buttons by heart

I’d never push

because I understood as a girl

that your killer instinct would not hesitate

that you are a secret keeper

that we have an understanding

you and I

and that I keep your secrets

violence that lives out in the open

where silence counts as consent

where intimidation counts as an agreement

a coming together of likeminded temperaments

I comprehended that I was born on thin ice

and carried the weight of men on my shoulders


women got hunchbacks from their submission and fears

their bitter self-condemnatory whispers

and plagued resigned bodies

adapting their forms and postures to the violence of men

watching them extract what they needed and wanted

from daughters and wives alike

men who packed their worst selves into a neat package

declaring to the world

I’m in order

I don’t have a past

men who erupt and let loose behind closed doors

their worst selves live at home

where they are their own bosses


who are these men who’d kill me if I said the wrong thing


silence and I never got along


in a house on fire you’re likely to scream

and they convinced me that screaming for my life

meant screaming for my death

and that fire was just fire

masters of distraction

and that I was the fatal match


you conveyed to me that I deserved men’s worst selves

men’s hidden swollen selves

and I anticipated who they needed me to be

in order for me to survive

My own drawing © Laura Gentile 2021 | Instagram: @melpomenepaintings

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