I Do Not Owe You My Beauty

I do not owe you my beauty or
the youthful glow I collected
some summer on the shores of
Lake Superior
throwing fish hooks into open mouths
of well fed fish
throwing glances at boys on docks and shorelines
shorts and sandals
grit in my mouth as I chewed my tongue to a pulp asking for my
towel back
spit not swallow
swimsuit top
giggling boys snapping beach towels on sandy asses
give me my name back
I do not owe you my beauty or
the coal dark sultry stare of well lined
the club in Minneapolis
dance floor in Dakota
crotch rubbed against my shoulder for eleven miles as he stood above me on a Mexican street bus
the violent undressing of my
clothed body by his naked stare
hands wrapped around my neck
masturbating minds like exploring mineshafts
I do not owe you my beauty

come sit on your knee and tell you about me
come sit on your lap and give you a kiss
come sit on your cock and tell you I want you
call you daddy or master or a long-drawn-out apology imsosorryimsosorryimsosorryimsosorry

my worth the width of the handprint
you left on my ass
pulling panties lined with pearls from my palms as penance
remind me the rent is due
rename generosity

I do not owe you my beauty
the summons of Greek mythology the rewriting of Wonder Woman the sexualization of My Little Pony the all male Ninja Turtles the scented washable markers we used to line our lips as toddlers the tragedy of Sylvia Plath the scent of a woman the mother’s bargain the oldest profession the dirtiest hotel room the knowledge of escape routes the salad in your teeth

I do not owe you my beauty
not my long silky hair
not my shaved legs or armpits
or lip
not the curve of my shoulder
my hip
the rise of my navel
forever forcing fuckably flatter
the way desire is spelled out
everything undone and alone and not worth it
I do not owe you my beauty
so when you ask for my tears
I let them fall bleating bleeding lemon from
puffy eyes
I ring the redness around them with black
as you like it
use a fifth grade highlighter to circle
every blemish
I resolve to lose my hair alongside my father but do not wait for his to go
pull fistfulls from a bloody scalp
decorate with table salt in every wound
put an infants' hairbow on every scab and stare you down

every woman I know has
claw marks on the
insides of her eyelids

let me tell you about beauty
when every eye closing is a slasher film
every eye opening is a slasher film
every cartoon is a slasher film
every pornography is a slasher film
harder faster better longer
every sleep is watching youth pass
every scream turned up loud enough becomes indistinguishable from silence
it is possible I think that the trees are screaming
top of their lungs
as they display beauty every autumn
every fall is a slasher film
every scream is caught so far back in the throat you wrapped your hands around and called sexy
that we’ve put our hands up
unable to breathe
put on the jumpsuit
taken no bail
accepted the paradoxical prison
put on the shame
the escapism of ugly
before I will owe you my beauty
I do not owe you the least of me
the best of me
the bloody knees or baited breath
the heightened rent of being a woman
the terms of repayment
the mess of your stain
swallow don’t spit
the endless apologies
I do no owe you a goddamn thing