Poetry and photography by Willa Bennett
This piece was originally published in Issue 10, December 2015. To read the full print magazine, visit:
I always find it silly how most ballerinas’ nervously bitten fingernails are just sharp enough to cut through their nylon tights
ripping the light pink fabric vertically down their long boney legs,
but I have always secretly loved the feeling of ripping my tights right before ballet class pretending it was an accident.
I am made of granola,
my ballet teachers correction for me to pull in my lower abdomen,
blueberries eaten with a spoon,
a mark on my knee from giving you my body last night,
the other mark on my neck you left this morning even though you do not have the permission,
my long hair I am still scared to cut because it grew to be so long with you,
tears in my best friend’s bed about you,
and looks in the mirror where all I see are flaws and sadness and daydreams and visions of having less of me,
but i am still here.
I do not know what it means to be in love but I know what it feels like to have my deepest thoughts completely inundated by you.
It is 10:45pm and I am thinking about the world from your eyes because your eyes think I am beautiful.
my uncut Something
In my dream last night, all my hair fell out.
I woke up
to a blade of grass in my shoe.
I think she may have left it there on purpose.
She whispered to me, “love is sick,”
then asked me if I thought if I was straight while licking my belly button.
I said, yes.
She fell in love again the day we broke up.
I have been starting to think that if someone calls you pretty enough times while looking you straight in the eye,
you will start to think it is Something.
It will feel expansive in your chest
getting larger and larger
until even your darkest daydreams will be bombarded by their eyelashes and the tone of her voice as she says it to you softly pulling you into her collarbone.
I swore I felt Something that night.
The next morning we pretended to sleep in uncut grass.
she asked me to be her girlfriend,
grabbed my long hair and offered to chop it all off for me.
I wonder if she knows how much she took from me.
The American Dream
I am one meal away from telling you how I feel about you. This is probably why I have not eaten in two days.
When I was in the hospital this summer the nurse looked me in the eye, removed my clothing, and asked me why I would do this to myself because “[I] am beautiful.”
Now you take off my shirt and ask me about America. We talk about red cup parties.
We do not converse about how hard it is to be a girl in a country that talks about ovaries on national television. We do not speak about guns, catcalling, or beauty standards. I forget to mention how it feels to be living in a body that often feels like a politician’s battleground.
You whisper that you think I am beautiful. I challenge you.
I am eating peanut butter on both sides of my toast trying to figure out how you feel about me back,
but I still do not know what being beautiful has to do with any of this.