The Second Sex – Candice Louisa Daquin

The girls at my school called girls who liked other girls —queer
It wasn’t a power-word, it was a tailored slur like⁠—perversion
They used it like pitch tar to pour over any girl who was:
Ugly, different, anti-social, didn’t date, liked to keep their hair short
Rejected pink, hated Valentine’s Day, disdained posters of boys in their locker
Didn’t lean in the bathrooms swapping body-spray and lip-gloss
(Had a mind of their own, excelled in science, enjoyed reading feminist literature).
Pre-teen, I stood in the bathrooms, fluffing my 90’s hair, worrying about
My unibrow, was it too much? Thick eyebrows are in⁠—right?
The push-up bra and netted leggings biting into my skin
Nobody suspected me, I passed, having learned as an immigrant
You do what it takes, adopt the accent, the fashion, the jargon
Even the food (though my stomach roiled at the thought of another pork pie).
A girl from Algeria sat alone on the lunch bench nearest to the pigeon shit
Her bag was made out of little mirrors, reflecting her amber eyes
I thought she was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen, words of adoration
Nearly spilt out like confetti: Is this seat free? We became best friends
climbing over the school gates to smoke a cigarette before Physical Ed.,
On the roof of the supply room, kicking off our tight shoes, passing back and forth
I could taste her lips on the paper, I think I still can, they tasted of
Licorice and disappointment, at the heckle of school life and her false
Belief a Westernized country would offer more for Muslim girls, who
Still got betrothed at 9, married out of country. The day she left
I cried, she cried, she never knew I cried because I loved her⁠— like that
She told me I was a good friend and promised to write, I received one
Package a few months later, it contained a mood ring I’d given her when
We visited Camden together, smoking our stash of cheap cigarettes by
The rivers edge and she said: That looks like a moonstone, it’s bad luck
But overcome with pre-teen emotion I said: We make our own luck
She didn’t get to make her own luck. She married at 15, a cousin
Her first child a year later, we didn’t stay in touch
Until years later when in France she’d written my aunt, I called a number
By then there were cellphones, she was with her husband at a conference
They don’t like Moroccans here either, she said, her eyes were the color
Of cigarettes, the whites yellowed and tired, she said I looked slim
I hadn’t any children, I didn’t marry my cousin, I was making my own luck
I told her about my girlfriend, she tried to understand but⁠— it felt wrong
She didn’t stay in touch. My girlfriend asked me why I kept her photo
If we were never properly together, I told her, girls who love other girls
Often never are; properly together, it’s kind of our legacy.

Photo by Daniel Monteiro on Unsplash

Read more of Candice Louisa Daquin’s work at The Feathered Sleep and at Whisper and The Roar. You can also follow her Facebook – Candice Louisa Daquin & The Feathered Sleep.

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