Submissions open for Wingword Poetry Prize 2020

21 Barbies & 1 Ken

Ekshikaa S

When I was young and 9,
You bought me 21 Barbies and 1 Ken.
Lustrous hair, sky blue eyes
slender arms and impossible thighs.

A childhood indifferent to girls and mousse.
For I remember the blackened torn shirts -
we spat out spit and bled like fools,
strewed dry colour, drilled the earth
with mud in our fingernails,
silver in our teeth.
Late nights learning football,
and slapping on grease.
A tryst among abandoned sinks,
cobwebs, weed, rocky steps, fallen sparks and rising depths,
Only to recite Rudyard's 'If' flawlessly.

When I was young and 9,
You bought me
21 Barbies and 1 Ken,
yet you still turn pale mom,
When you hear the word ‘girlfriend’.

“But you always played with boys!” - you exclaim!
And yes I did in my younger days, 
days that refined my growing phase.
We kicked the ball and hit the pool
them in their trunks and me in my suit, 
cracked the windshield, brought down the fence,
plunging our bicycles, battling through bends.
Remember good, and remember well…
It was the pretty girls of whom I saw much less.

For since I was young and 9,
you bought me
21 Barbies and 1 Ken.
Why do you make that face
everytime I say ‘lesbian’?

Scarred shins from broken buckets, 
Bruised palms from scaling trees,
Smearing ink on blotchy knees 
with dogs to love and gods to appease.
When the girl code was taboo and body-hair was not. 
Egos were budding,and emotions weren’t taught.
Quarrels on who'd be forward and who took defence, 
Mine was a love without stereotypes and offence.
Chest-bumps were all it took to make peace,
and that's why for me ‘men’
will only remain friends. 
I dressed them up and played with them.

From a sunrise 6 to a twinkling 10

They’re called 'women' mom,

And I love them.

 


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