Womanly

What
Does it mean?

To be
Womanly

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Is it merely
To push life out of you

To walk
Barefoot and broken

Abnegate
With a Scarlet letter on your breast

Or is it more
Visceral, intricate, guttural, real

Like perhaps
The iridescent shimmer of broken glass

As it sticks
And gleams prettily on your open wrist

A pink gash
To compensate for the one between your legs

A blue vein
Hastily stitched up, bandaged and recompensed

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Is that it then
Are you a woman now?

Carved marble-like
A suffering, persevering, patient creature

From a blade
An ecclesiastical scalpel

That punishes
The sinful, the splintered, the shameless

I think not
For reasons that might seem uncomely

You are
Blood and bone

Conscientious
About your own volatility and insignificance

Your blood
Is crimson, but also violet and cerulean and green

Quite like
The bruises that are meant to discipline, but not display

Tell me
Again what it means

To be
flinted and livid and discordant and hungry

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Tell me
I pray, Erudite

What
Is it after all

To be
Womanly

[Featured GIF: giphy.com]

[Featured art: Sarah Modak]

To Emily Dickinson – Life After Death

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“How dreary – to be – Somebody!

How public – like a Frog –

To tell one’s name – the livelong June –

To an admiring Bog!”

Dear Emily,

There’s a hollowness in your words that makes my chest feel like a gaping black hole.

They are full of impossibilities, etched with the fear of oblivion. Sucking in the electric emotions and flinging them into the unfathomable black abyss.

They say they found your work after you died. All those brilliant poetries children would one day loath as they were taught to interpret them in school, their unrefined thoughts conjuring a vague image of you as a nineteenth century emo.

They say that’s when you began a new life, a new legend. Breathing through your words, thriving on the sensations we felt when we read them, as yours remained forgotten whispers in the dust.

A life after death.

But you never wanted to be somebody, did you? Because you were already dead.

You felt dead, like you lived inside the black hole in my chest.

You had always felt the color flaking off your soul as it grew dormant and stale, the color that wasn’t dulled with age, but with loneliness.

Did you day dream about your funeral? Then grow angry because you were still stuck here, where no one could see you. You didn’t want them to see you, no.

But, sometimes. Only sometimes,

As you sat near the windowsill, looking at the rose that would be your muse, the delicate teacup in your dry fingers cracked and you couldn’t breathe because you were tired of everybody not seeing you—everybody unseeing you and you wanted to yell I’M HERE GODDAMNIT, I’M ALIVE.

Would you be glad, knowing that they see you now?

Or,

Perhaps you would still be unhappy, as you disintegrate under the surface of the earth.

Or perhaps,

You are simply oblivious.

Because you knew. You always knew, what it was like to be dead.

It’s like you lived the second you died.

Or did you die the second you started living?

Dear Emily,

I hope you know now,

For someone who never seemed to have the affinity for life,

You made a lot of us feel alive.

Yours,
Anupama