Written by Trini Rogando

Girl, from the moment you were 
born you were destined to bear
a cross. Say a prayer and choke
on it until it lodges firmly in your 
throat, deep where the sunlight
cannot reach—it must percolate, 
waiting, until the wishing stars leap 
from the sky. 

Girl, you must pray for a 
husband, and you must want it. 
Take care of this wish. Carry it 
and bear its weight. If it is cold, 
heat the stove. If it hungers, 
prepare a meal. Girl, you were 
never given a choice. Your body
is a temple, 
a catalyst of divinity, 
a zealot for multiplying stars. 
All girls wish to create new life. 
Girl, you are not allowed 
to wish to change yours.

Girl, you will marry a man by
the light of the fertile moon—
tan and round and filled with 
blessing. Your belly will swell 
and crest, just as the ocean tides 
are pulled by the sky. Nevermind 
your throat, gagged by seawater,
or your dislike, springing at sight.
Honor is two crossed lines, two
parted legs. Say it. Say it. See it.
Girl, when you arch your back,
his wood will bruise your twilit 
skin and a prayer for mercy will 
almost escape your drowning lips.
You will wonder: is this what love 
feels like? You will wish to be a 
star careening off the edge of the 
horizon. Girl, this is your duty. 
Girl, you were never given a choice.

Girl, no one will tell you of the sun. 
You will not know you can turn 
left into the orange grove, where 
the faint touch of warmth beckons 
the fruits to grow full and laden 
with sweetness. No one will tell 
you that the sun’s lips are soft and 
gentle and feel nothing like the 
burden of a splintered cross. Girl, 
no one will tell you how her smile 
can evaporate the salt wounds on 
your tongue. How she can invite a 
honeyed prayer to leap freely from 
your breath, a sigh that unwinds your 
shrouded dreams. You would think: 
this is love. You would wish for dusk 
to hang suspended in the sky; to live 
in her fleeting caress forever. Girl, you 
do not realize that you have a choice.

Girl, no one will tell you that you
can love a woman. But oh—Girl,
with your heavy moon heart—
if only you saw,
if only you knew.

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