I Speak | A Poem

WORDS BY EMILY ZHENG / @CRINGING_
PHOTOGRAPHY BY VICTORIA SANDICO / @HOSTILEFAERIE
MODELED BY YILING ZHAO / @ZHXO
I stand and gaze at the world, at all the loss and beauty and cruelty

I see the girl in my science class who forgot that she is a warm sunset
She beamed the dwindling promise the world had left to offer
Courage
Beauty
Strength
Self-loathing slogans were her bedtime stories
And the endings always left her sullen cheeks stained with tears
I am skinI am purposelessI am simply space
“I stopped eating.”

I see the woman whose husband is about to hit her
She reminds him, “We are in public.”
Her will is crushed by silence
Her deadened eyes are a blade
Her strong spirit, her bright eyes, her shaking hands are his to break
She has given her husband lilacs and he has returned thunder
    


I see my younger self lost in the waves of insecurity
My voice compromised by thorns
Piercing my lips with shame
I am a daughter of the earth yet I am nothing

I see the woman sticking her nervous fingers down her throat
Praying that tomorrow will be a thinner day
The hopeful child in Nigeria
Whose nightmares are a reality
The injustices
The heartbreak
And the like;
All these—All the storms, the turmoil, the misery
I see beautiful, crisp skies
I hear my grandmother’s laughter
And I speak

Inspired by Walt Whitman's "I Sit and Look Out"


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