Safia Elhillo

my roommate one year in college
would say of my smallness
that any man who found me attractive
had a trace of the pedophilic

& i would shrink newly girled
twenty-one with my eyebrows
plucked to grownup arches sprouting
back every three weeks
in sharp little shoots already men
have tried to steal me

in their taxis corral me into alleyways
of the new city already
the demand for my name though
no one ever asks how old i am

though no one ever did i feel creaking
& ancient in the repetition
of it all i feel my girlhood gone for
generations my entire
line of blood crowded with exhausted
women their unlined faces

frozen in time with only a thickness
about the waist a small shoot
of gray to belie the years

i make up names to hand
to strangers at parties
i trim years from my age & share without
being asked that i am
fifteen seventeen & no one blinks
no one stops wanting

i am disappeared like all the girls
before me around me
all the girls to come

everyone thinks
i am a little girl & still
they hunt me still they show their teeth
i am so tired i am
one thousand years old one thousand
years older when touched

Last updated September 27, 2022