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.
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For more than two years, our young writers have weathered an adolescence shaped by an ongoing global pandemic. But a harsh climate can also produce work of rare depth, complexity, nuance and humor. The Girls Write Now mentees in this collection have found new ways to build community and take root. This anthology is a catalog of seeds—each young writer cultivating a shimmering, emergent voice. In short stories, personal essays, poetry, and more, they reflect on life-altering topics like heartbreak, self-care and friendship. The result is a stunning book with global relevance of all this generation has endured and transformed.
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.