It wasn’t that she wanted to be pretty.
She wanted the world to see her
as she saw herself.
She wanted to see herself.
That’s what my daughter tells me.
I watch her, high up on these rocks,
her arm extended in a welcoming gesture —
she invites the world in.
I hold my phone arm up
an echo of her greeting
and am horrified to see my face —
some jackass left the camera flipped
to stare back at the operator
and now I am confronted
with my judgmental chins
and slack mouth. What
was I thinking about to make
such a grim expression?
I wanted to justify her figure
in this landscape. I wanted her
safe. My calcifying ideas
clamp around her, like the tower
Rapunzel’s furious witch-mother
locked her in. This fortress
I built with my own brain bowl,
bars grown from bone, I have stuck her
inside a snow dome, little white slips
flutter, so pretty; all the pages of magazines
telling girls how to be and the flicker
of grades and other ratings, ticker-tape
of male gaze and every comment
about her body — how tall, how blue, how boobs
and butt, how short the skirt —
why all this feedback about her appearance?
Who asked you?
And why mock her
when she draws her own door
and walks through it?