Shoulders and Live Art

Photograph – Live Art by Marlee Wittner

Shoulders by Grace Beilman

My shoulders can’t be shown
but the boy whose shirt
says that bullets are faster than 911
runs free of charge
and free of stares.

My shoulders are not subject
to your sexualizing statement,
not a symbol of promiscuity
not a scandal
or an affair.

My shoulders are draped in
this heavy cloth of code.
Conformity takes shape
in these rules sewn together,
perfectly stitched for barbie doll figures.

I am supposed to be protected from a world
where a woman
can’t walk free
without feeling the fear
of eyes on her back.

I am supposed to be learning,
but I distract from the education of the boy
sitting two rows behind me
Who can’t learn to take a test
Without ogling my body.

I am censored,
my expressions are restrained
because a young woman
doesn’t know anything
beyond her own feelings.

This code smothers me.
From the first perfect pink onesie snug over my diaper
To my fingertips failing to stay within the parameters of fabric
to the wrinkle repair and facelift of my future.

Take a look.
My body is not
a distraction,
I am not defined
by the definitions
of appropriate
that have been forced
upon me.

My body is

My body
was never
a distraction.

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