A string of ‘sorry’ falling from my lips,
An unconsidered reflex,
For brushing your leg with my bag as I walked by.
A single seat left on the tube,
Tired legs and pregnant bump ignored,
By myself but not by others,
A teen with a confident swagger collapses into space I didn’t claim.
She knew she was worth it.
You’ll discover I’m not worthy of your cost,
Of time and energy,
So I’ll not rudely shatter your momentary illusions,
I’ll just sit quietly.
You’ll find your own way to my conclusion soon enough.
Too many spoken over,
Mown down by a barrage of other people’s noise,
Leaving me with echoes of my own dialogue in my mind.
Louder voices drowning out stuttered attempts to verbalise.
Step back and shut down.
It’s so much easier to be less,
Than to relentlessly fight for space amongst the more.
I’ll meet them myself,
Why burden another with my words and wants,
When I can silently scrape together my own resources?
Maketh man a lonely island.
Words of others like sticky post-it-notes,
Assumed as truths and ruminated over,
Until they became tattooed onto a heart that couldn’t fight them as false.
Surely the minority,
Uttering spiky words or causing unintentional pain,
Are better placed to tell me who I am,
To see the bad in my good.
I’ll let you assign my price.
Accepting gifts with an awkward shuffle and blushing cheeks,
Compliments ricocheting off the heart like pebbles skimmed off a taut sea,
Bending a burdened back backwards,
Spewing saccharine sentences I don’t even believe,
So that you like me.
You could write poetry about your like for me,
It won’t be enough for me to believe that that’s your truth.
You wish you were older,
A little bit taller,
A lot more wiser,
Much more patient,
I need to be more.
I need to be less.
No more envying those walking,
Taking space and talking sentences without apology,
Claiming seats without a sorry,
Requesting quenching water without a tensing of the shoulders.
No more swallowing words out of fear,
As to whether they will be mistaken or misunderstood,
Which they may,
In fact they will,
But that is not a reflection of the value of them being heard.
You’re a messy complexity of humanity,
With needs and wants and sometimes profanity,
Of ugliness and sweat and space and pride and love and need,
And that’s okay.
Flex the muscle of your voice,
Throw out your arms and claim your space that was yours all along,
Stop ending sentences with questions and prefixing with ‘just’,
Exercise the sinews of your voicebox,
No speaking in whispers and avoiding confrontation,
Don’t devalue your innate worth with apologies and intonations.
Learn to grow to love your powerful voice,
As a lioness recognises the authority of her roar.
The thoughts and feelings of others about you are neither facts nor your business,
Just seen through their scratched grey lenses of experiences,
The one you see them through too mind you,
We all do.
Unshrug those shoulders you don’t need,
To shrink into yourself anymore,
Stop chipping away at a body that takes up precious inches,
Because you are of more value than all the space you could ever inhabit,
Laugh freely regardless of snorts and tears,
Your joy is worth experiencing,
And each peal of laughter will become easier,
Even if it’s only you who understands the joke.
Hold your head higher,
Line lips in crimson red and wear colour,
But if you don’t,
Don’t because you don’t want to,
Not because you want to but fear being seen.
Your purpose might feel entangled and confused,
But you have purpose all the same,
That’s a promise.
You don’t need to be less,
You don’t need to be more.
Take your space.
Take your space without apology,
Without bended knee or slipping into the comfort of the background,
Grow slowly but surely in to yourself.