By Lena DiBiasio
A poem written on the eve of my seventeenth birthday after realizing what womanhood might mean for me.
i smoothed at my wrinkles this morning, globbing moisturizer onto my fine lines and rubbing in outward motions. pulling the wrinkles away, pulling, pulling, pulling. my father let out a belly laugh like he does on sunday mornings and told me that i am too young to care about such things leave that to your mother, he said with a smile. i did not smile back. i have a watch from my grandmother to mollie—you’re finally a woman, happy seventeenth i wore that watch every day though it could not tell time last week, i took it off and let it rest. i turn seventeen next month. i am not ready, i am not a woman. i needed to do so many things, be someone else, before i became a woman my heart speeds up at the thought, and i know my time has run out i complained about this to my father, who grinned with his crooked teeth like he does on a sunday evening and proclaimed that i have so much life ahead of me my mother sat silent. i have no time left. i haven’t fallen in love or found a passion or cleared up my skin or found real friends or decided what kind of a person i am and i think knowing what kind of a person you are is mighty important if you are going to be a woman now, not a girl. if i am a woman as of my seventeenth birthday, then i will no longer be me. i’ll have children and soon i’ll forget that i like the beastie boys just like my mother did and i’ll concede to adolescent whines and let them play their horrible pop music instead of what i really, truly like. because i won’t really truly like anything anymore because i’ll be a mother and mothers can only be mothers. my father still likes the beastie boys. i’m scared to be a woman, i can’t be seventeen yet because i haven’t grown up and yet already my time is gone. i apply moisturizer before bed, and the small golden watch laughs from its drawer, mocking me.
Girls Write Now On the Other Side of Everything: The 2023 Anthology
Do you know what it’s like to communicate with your family across a salty ocean’s divide? Do you want the sun and moon to enter your home with stories written in embers? Do you seek voices that will punctuate the darkness? Welcome to the other side of everything. It’s the other side of silence, the other side of childhood, the other side of hate, the other side of indifference, it’s the other side of sides, where the binary breaks down. It’s a new paradigm, a destination, a different perspective, a mindset, a state of openness, the space between the endless folds in your forehead, hopes for tomorrow, and reflections on the past. This anthology of diverse voices is an everything bagel of literary genres and love songs, secrets whispered in the dark of night, conversations held with ancestors under the sea.
To write this poem, I pulled my old watch out of my drawer to remind myself of the inscription on the back. I was inspired to write this after a pair session with my mentor where we talked about motherhood, and what it’s like to be a woman growing into her own. I always feel a landslide of emotions on my birthday, mostly negative, so this poem is a reflection of that.
Lena DiBiasio is an aspiring writer attending high school in New York City. She has been writing since the ripe young age of eight years old and her love for the craft has not diminished since. She won silver and gold National Scholastic Awards in 2019 and received a silver regional Scholastic award in both 2020 and 2021.