a bout de souffle
a bout de souffle
by Sarah Kay
If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at,
You can let them look at you.
But do not mistake eyes for hands,
Or windows for mirrors.
Let them see what a woman looks like.
They may not have ever seen one before.
If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch,
You can let them touch you.
Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for.
Sometimes it is a bottle, a door, a sandwich, a Pulitzer, another woman –
But their hands found you first.
Do not mistake yourself for a guardian, or a muse, or a promise, or a victim or a snack.
You are a woman –
Skin and bones, veins and nerves, hair and sweat
You are not made of metaphors,
Not apologies, not excuses.
If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold,
You can let them hold you.
All day they practice keeping their bodies upright.
Even after all this evolving it still feels unnatural,
Still strains the muscles, holds firm the arms and spine.
Only some men will want to learn what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you,
Admit they don’t have the answers they thought they would by now.
Some men will want to hold you like the answer.
You are not the answer.
You are not the problem.
You are not the poem, or the punchline, or the riddle, or the joke.
Woman, if you grow up the type of woman men want to love,
You can let them love you.
Being loved is not the same thing as loving.
When you fall in love,
It is discovering the ocean after years of puddle jumping.
It is realising you have hands.
It is reaching for the tightrope after the crowds have all gone home.
Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman men will hurt.
If he leaves you with a car alarm heart.
You learn to sing along.
It is hard to stop loving the ocean,
Even after it’s left you gasping, salty.
So forgive yourself for the decisions you’ve made,
The ones you still call mistakes when you tuck them in at night,
And know this.
Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours.
Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.
You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You are born to build.