be passive. they try to stitch my mouth closed, stabbing the needle & thread in and out so i am volatile no longer. i gasp like a girl drowning, but i force words up my throat & spit them all out, daggers in search of places to bury themselves. what they don’t know is i’ve always hidden inside my body a tempest made of magnificence & fury.
be hidden. sometimes i hear their voices hissing my name like a curse, whispering at me to blend away into the shadows — a place fit for what they call a porcelain girl. to become a shadow myself; wherever, whenever, a ghosting act performed with stilted grace. i know they want me to forget my own face, but my memory is like steel & will never break.
be tolerant. they tie strings around my wrists and call me their little puppet. i step out of line & they’ll dangle me out dry for the vultures circling overhead. every time, i’ll break free & run, run, but there’ll always be wolves high off a chase or sharks hungry for a taste of my flesh. but you can bite a string for so many times until it breaks, so i learn to hone my teeth like a blade.
be pretty. they adorn me in pearls for the passersby so they coo at the sight of me. no man wants a woman who can do more than he can, so make use of that little doll face. nobody likes a girl who’s angry & passionate & unlovely, so soften up & close that mouth. careful, i’m an uncut gemstone masquerading as a girl. i’m covered in sharp edges all over behind that glittering smile.