2023-2024, Poem, Writing

What They Tell Us

What They Tell Us
Mary Jane Scott, '27

They tell her what to be 
And she listens.

Her face
A porcelain mask
Covered with creamy lies
Dusted with a bit pink
Layered in the deep darkness of the morning 
When only girls with pretty faces
are awake

Her eyebrows 
Pored over 
Plucked and 
Into limp rainbows. 
Her lips
Glossed and gleaming 
Ready to smile.
Her hair
Into a limp domestic creature
In the jaws or a heated clamp 
Evaporating all traces of originality.

Her outfit
A modern day corset
Her rules
Boa constrict on her mind
Can’t raise your hand too high (cropped clothes reveal to much) Can’t participate too much (sweat doesn’t look pretty)
Can’t talk too much (no one likes a rambler)
Can’t try too hard (never look desperate)

Her skin
Like plastic wrap
Pulled over jenga block bones
She hopes their sharp edges won’t poke through the plastic.
But who is to say
When someone
Bent on knocking down a tower 
Will come and pull out a block 
1.5 cm by 2.5 cm
And watch her tumble 
All the way to the ground.

She walks fast
Like she has places to be
Like she knows her purpose
Her schedule
Crammed with
Extra Extra Extra
She wants to check off every box. 
She wants to fill every box.
She is a shapeshifter
Conforming into whatever mold 
They put in front of her
She forgets
That the cost of fluid bones
Is that without a cast
They melt.

Her body
Her life
A marble statue
A molded goddess
Chiseled away
Into exactly
what they tell her it should be