puberty; or, why I started covering my body for fear of unsolicited attention

downy hair on athletic legs,
lit up by the afternoon sun
and then eclipsed briefly
by a half-eaten Maxibon –
hurtling through space to
arrive, milky, on a pubescent calf
“show us ya tits”
a car of boys much older than you screeches away

the awkwardness of
Bras N Things fittings –
the cold hands of a bejewelled fitter,
pushing your posture straight while
mum beams prideful
just beyond the silky barrier,
(you didn’t want a girly pattern)

the fragile moment of first blood
alleviated in jokes made
by your dad about sanitary items
to the cashier at Coles
who has served you since you were six

all this, mirrored in the orgasmic trajectory
of a stranger masturbating
in his station wagon on the service lane of your street,
forcefully imposing his terrifying grin on you
while you walk home during second semester of Year Seven.

alternatively, the surprise of your Opa’s clean house
and the roast he made especially for you
since
as he tells you in thickly accented English
“you are growing, and boys will start to notice you soon”
and to only pay attention to those that treat you
nicely, like this

it wasn’t creepy
or yelled at you from a car,
it did not leave you
terrified of sex
or mad at your body for growing
outward, upward
against your will.
 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Ali Schnabel is a writer and Youth Worker from Melbourne whose work has been featured in Cordite Poetry Review, Voiceworks, and various other journals that have found a home under the remotes at her dads house. She tweets @alivonschnabel

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