Boys tell me
I am cute
they wonder why
or how
I am still single
and I laugh
at how cute it is
that “cute”
is their only prerequisite
for a woman
they will always
refer to as “girl”
Boys tell me
I am cute
and it took
a few scars
to realize
this is not a flimsy compliment
this is a demand
an expectation
a conditional agreement
I am socially obligated to sign
with a smile
and a thank you
I am cute
and I cannot be
anything more
or anything less
lest they abandon ship
and disappear
for better or for worse
I am cute.
Cute is harmless
Cute is innocent
Cute is approachable
Cute is palatable
Cute is lovable
Boys tell me
I am cute
until my smile disappears
and theirs do too
when they see my fangs
when they see my venom
when they throw stones
and I heave boulders
to break their fragile bones
When they run away
and I watch them
over everything I already knew about myself
all the ways in which I remain unlovable
in the eyes of men
who cannot bear witness
to the full humanity
of a woman
without spitting it back in her face
and leaving

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