It’s painful to watch you sometimes,
Muzzled by hormones and contrived, impossible images
That teach you to shine by conforming and hiding your light.
Your minds whirl while you wonder what they think
In the halls, your heels click,
Arms wrap around tummies in too tight jeans.
Your eyes dart wildly as you propel yourself within the throng,
Ungainly and uncomfortable,
Seeking attention and approval, and pushing your power
Deep inside a contradictory shell of self-consciousness.
So rigid you cannot escape it.
So fragile that you are crushed by any perceived slight.
My job is to teach you to think and to write,
To know yourself,
To share yourself,
To speak with the authority of someone who deserves to be heard.
But I remember this constrictive tunnel vision,
This cold weight in my belly,
This uneasy electrical charge in my chest,
And sometimes I have to just look away.
- Beth Silverman Landau, 2010