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Conversations to my pillowcase 

There are many things that I hate. 

I hate the English language for I cannot find the words to say all that is suppressed at the back of my throat. 

I hate the way my voice sounds out loud and on the radio, when it is left unattended for other ears to hear, a playback stuck on repeat. 

I hate that I may speak to silence only to hear no echo back. 

In fact, I hate that I waste my breath, for this is what it means to be a woman; a performance for eager ears by a desperate mouth – as though it is a secret, between you and I. 

I hate that I think too much about thinking too much instead of just looking out the window just for the sake of looking out the window. 

I hate that I think about love. 

I hate that my eyes don’t carry mirrors for the world to see itself the way that I do. I hate that my worth has become a ballad for the birds to sing to. 

I hate myself for caring too much or too little. I’m not even sure which one it is. I hate myself. 

I was a babe, nestled in between my mothers breasts when the world muttered profanities in my innocent ears. Piercing holes in my eardrums which I couldn’t stitch back together until many moons later. Even now, the words reverberate between the crystals, my head trapping them as though I have become a snowglobe of everything I’ve tucked away. 

I have become a mass of all the things I swore I’d never be. My father’s anger lingers in my veins, a silent thrum against each thump of my beating heart. My mothers fate rests along the lines of my palms, each groove a life that could’ve been. I carry these with me, an emblem of who I am, a badge of honor to whom I owe my existence to. 

I wonder then, if my heart asks permission to beat, must my life be a series of pleadings? 

Will the oil on my body cleanse away the dirt and grime of unwanted hands creating unfamiliar maps along the crevice of my skin.

My ambitions lay bare, scattered in front of my path. They are shards of glass piercing through my knees as I beg the universe to give me the world. 

I worship the moon thinking she understands my sorrows. I wonder, does she feel the same? Does she miss the howling of the wolves, patiently waiting for the month to pass. 

I’ll dip my toes in the ocean hoping she opens up her vast expanse and swallows me whole. I’ll swim to the reefs and drape myself in an adornment of shells. 

I tell myself I am stardust from galaxies light years away, but I don’t think I believe myself anymore. I look at my reflection in the river and whisper. 

I will love you, but not always. 

I will love you, but not today. 

I’ll swallow rocks and drown in this body of despair, hoping nobody finds me. 

I become a broken raft. My chamber fills with water and the boat sinks, lower and lower. I dream and I weep or maybe this is death. 

It is not. 

It is a 10 year old girl riding her bike down the street of her sunny neighborhood. Her thick dark hair cut in an awkward bob. 

She reads books and writes poetry about boys that never look at her and overwhelming feelings. 

She listens to music and she laughs. She plays games with children on the playground and savors the taste of flavored ice on her tongue. 

I see her at night. She is afraid of the pirates on the balcony and marvels at what monsters sleep under her bed. 

She wonders what kind of woman she’d become and I wonder if she knows that an unspeakable ache will soon fill her chest, gnawing at her from the inside. 

She presses her hands to her face and questions whether she is beautiful. A pillow drowns her tears. I fall to my knees, sinking at the bottom of the river bend and I wail.

I look at her and I wail. Perhaps I am the tranquil monster that has been under her bed this entire time. 

I swim into her dreams and hold her close. I brush her soft hair with my fingers and inhale the sweet scent of cotton as it fills my nostrils. 

I enchant her mind with images of beauty and love. 

I whisper to her: 

Take care of your mind and body like a plant and it will bloom beautiful seeds. Submerge yourself in the sun and dance in the rain and watch the roots ground themselves into the rocky terrain. 

Plant your grief in my soil and I will water it dry. I will harvest your pain, grain by grain, and weave baskets from it. I will dip petals in honey and fruits in the stream and wash away its impurities so you can bask in the rich flavors of this earth. 

I will quench your thirst with fresh milk and dowse you in crystal clear water. 

I will grow flowers from my head for hair and I will periodically trim the stems. I will keep the garden tame and beautiful. 

My fingers may get stained, with dirt in between my nails, and my arms may get tired from the harvest but that is the life of a gardener of grief. So please, my beautiful girl, stay. 

Stay and you’ll find that love is real. But it is not in the boy who catches quick glances at your supple being. You’ll find it in warm hands and meals with your friends. It is in trips and hot showers, postcards and books. Love is in oceans, mountains, sunshine, and laughter. It is the sound of rain on your windowsill. Love is real, so stay long enough to see it. 

And if you find that nobody loves you along the way, or holds your hand when you are scared, remember that I will love you in between whispers and across the stars so that you may kiss the sun and cry to the moon. 

I will love you the way clouds love the sky and sand loves the ocean. 

I will love you gracefully in your disasters and madly love you in your stillness. I promise I will love you. So stay. 

I will love you, always. 

I will love you, especially today.

This is the piece I presented at Amnesty International’s International Women’s Day event “Art by Women”. To read more on the event, please read Nicole César Wekking’s article “What happened in Groningen on the 8th of March?”