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i am just like other girls

A poem by Eliana Horning.

Written by Eliana Horning

Edited by Kendall Wack

Artwork by Stacy Ketsios

i believe the only thing that makes me “girl” is my sameness with girls— our shared soft hair, our shared attention to how our bodies look in dresses, our shared rage,

our fear, so thick it’s almost tangible.

i am girl when a little girl says “no boys allowed” i am girl when a girl asks her fellow ladies for advice, i am girl when playing team badminton, gender vs gender i am girl when an old man holds the door open for “the nice young lady”

i am girl when anyone needs me to be.

i am not girl when around men— at least, i wish i was not; their eyes slide over me like slugs

leaving trails of slimy perception on my breasts, my thighs.

i can feel the marks long after they’ve looked away.

perhaps i am girl when men stare at my body like a tender cut of meat.

i am girl when my mother calls me her daughter, the woman flooding into my soul to be like her, to relate to the woman that bleeds and sweats for me.

i am girl when my father says i am, says that i’m the smartest girl he knows and says i should be careful walking alone at night.

i am not girl because it says i am on my birth certificate, i am not girl because that is what i check at the doctor’s office, i am not girl because i sometimes have to wear mascara to feel pretty.

i am girl because i am granddaughter. i am girl because that makes other girls feel safe, i am girl because that makes little girls feel seen.

i am not girl lying in bed at night. i shed the woman

and hang her up on my bedpost to air out.

when i sit in the darkness of my room

girl whispers to me and i listen, but i am not her.

girl kisses me on the cheek and i am not her.

girl says good night and we close our eyes.

Eliana Horning is a second semester senior at SUNY Oswego in Upstate New York majoring in Creative Writing and English. They work as a writing tutor on their campus and love to help anyone at any level of their writing journey. Once graduated, she will pursue her master's degree in Library Sciences and serve any community that needs serving.

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