On the Creation of Secrets
Sit down. Be quiet. Don’t breathe. Don’t speak. Don’t ask why.
I will shut my mouth. I will never speak again. I will shrink away.
I will wear dresses and play with dolls. I will not get dirt on my knees. Don’t cry in public. Learn your lesson. Bite your tongue. Don’t cut others off when they speak. Don’t yell when you are outside. The neighbors will hear you. Use your inside voice. Can’t you be serious? You don’t want people to think you are stupid. Calm down. I will not climb trees and run through woods screaming. I will go outside and sit on rocks and be as silent as I can. I will learn to hold in the tears. Sit in the corner. Face the wall. Don’t move. Don’t even whisper or you’ll sit there all day. Don’t monopolize the conversation. Don’t make your voice heard. You must do as you are told. How many times do I have to tell you?I will keep all my words to myself. I will not raise my voice. I will not make a sound. You will not know my name. I will perfect silence. I will pretend that I lost my voice. Why can’t you be nice? Speak up. Don’t talk to me that way. Do as you are told.Be quiet when I talk to you. Do your work without complaint. Wait your turn. Don’t talk back. Don’t ask questions. Never say “no”. What’s wrong with you? You have nothing important to say. Bite your tongue. Don’t show off. Don’t speak until you are spoken to. Who are you to question this? What do you know? I will not raise my hand. I will not ask for help. I will shut my mouth. Never talk to strangers. Don’t make demands. Don’t move. Don’t run in dresses. Don’t ask why.
Though I kind of feel disconnected from this poem now, I put it up as a reminder of all the voices that I’m working against every day. Sharing my words is liberation.