I see survival instinct

I see

plastic easter eggs holding

razor blades

packed away in backpacks

and lockers

tissues compressing issues lying

just beneath the surface

pouring out red

here, let me stain that for you

because a fourteen year old girl

in our society will never believe that

she is beautiful

even though she is

even though it doesn’t matter

even though we all



I see those scars

and they remind me of my own

so much lighter now

but always there to remind me

of the only thing I can control

when the media tells me that my rapist

will be set free

because the blame is on me

a size twelve teen starving

to become a woman

well, honey, you already are

and I am distressed

that you feel so unworthy of love

so overwhelmed with aversion towards

your own flesh that the only remedy

is to scratch the surface

and cry crimson

brain beating itself inside soft skull

there are no tourniquets

for cultural amputation of sexuality


and sanity

trying to cut away the fat

the displaced, misplaced shame

unconsciously hiding in clothes that fit like

circus tents sit

because my curves are my curse

my responsibility

my enemy

and my dowry

to be saved for a time when some man

might want a trophy

until then

I’m going to control my body while

the government still lets me

but you

you are too young to realize

that the ads you see

are subliminally shouting

enough? you will never be

so persistently

that when the message

absorbs into the bloodstream

without consent

you, not even realizing

your involuntary participation

in the cautionary mind-fuck that is

the American beauty industry,

are forced to dig

the insanity



By Kristin Stetler