When the Wolves Stay Quiet | Ann V. DeVilbiss
They Call Us Girls
Do you remember how it felt?
Time slow as bubblegum
melted on a sidewalk, every second
charged with the unbearable weight
of our swollen hearts,
coltish stumble of new limbs,
our bodies like secrets to be learned
slowly, first wolf whistle with its shrill note
of fear and the power inside fear.
The other girls taught me how to knit on
a tight smile, how to ignore the needle
and use the blood, spelling words
cast up and down my arms
in grape-scented magic marker,
pretending the idea of indelible,
the quilled polka dot of purple edges,
new shapes quickening from out of the dark.
We learned how to hide things,
became like changelings, foreign
and reckless, wanting
something permanent, a mark
that could last forever.
These strangers with rough hands felt
safer than anything we hid inside,
girls like us who learned pain
we thought that we deserved.