Image of a Mirror (First Draft)

I washed my body, polished it til it shone on all things that were not housed inside it.
I became a mirror; reflected what I saw and called it my own image.

Part 1: Blood

I was told how much I looked like my mother.
I was told how my sister looked and acted nothing alike.
I was told how much I act like my father.

I was never told how I was like myself- my story only existed in comparison to others.
I only existed in comparison to others. That was a universal truth in the years of my life when my body was younger than it is now. My body was never mine. It was only in scrapes and bruises when I was able to engage with myself, wearing them like badges. They reminded me I was real and that this body was mine. This blood slipping past cells to taste the earth originated inside of me. This swatch of purple-stained skin felt like painting, felt like permanent though I knew they would fade. It was simply a reminder I was the cause for what bloomed from me. I was my own creator in a world where I existed as an echo of those around me. I could make myself different.

Part 2: Hair

I took fate into my own hands for the first time in my life when I was 5. Understand, I was a child you had to keep eyes on. Therefore, I learned early how to hide things. Like myself. Like scissors. Like locks of hair til morning. All my gorgeous hair, gone. My mother wept. My father wail. I didn’t get it. I liked my new short hair. I wasn’t allowed to touch scissors unsupervised for years. I wasn’t allowed to have my own idea of who I was for years-

but I waited. I was patient. I was good. I was allowed to have haircut once it past my shoulder blades. I was 10. I couldn’t wait for the feeling of my hair brushing against the apples of my cheeks again. I forgot how much I loved that feeling, of not being trapped by my hair. Short-lived, that freedom of possibly knowing what I looked like- my father called me a dyke. I didn’t know what they word meant the. I knew it was wrong. I knew it was something I already was. I knew that I would have to practice at being a better mirror.

I went through cycles of growing out my hair, trying to correct myself. Look like the other girls, act like the other girls, be less like yourself. Be a better mirror. The longer the hair, the longer the lies, the memories trapped in the strands. I didn’t want to remember all the times I was called a sin, the cruel speculating within earshot- I chopped it all off and freedom met with me again. It was on my terms. No waiting, no pleading, no comments of “But you looked so good with long hair!” I was able to create my own image. I was able to begin to reclaim myself.

Part 3: Fear

No one told me that reclamation is a process. No one told me how process isn’t linear. This concept is still escapes me. Anger slips in between the statements like it belongs. Sadness seeps into the periods when progress has stagnated. They oscillate and take turns at rearing their heads in my chest, and they are me- Owning them is the hardest thing I’ve had to do. Owning and accepting are two different things. I do not know what acceptance looks like. I do not know what I look like. I do not try to look at myself. I am scared of what I will see. I am scared of what I won’t. I’m hoping that one day I’ll be brave enough to find out. I’m hoping one day I’ll be brave enough to accept what will appear when I look at myself.

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2 Comments Add yours

  1. cheyboi says:

    Briana,

    I was initially brought in by the line “I was never told how I was like myself”. Like I said the first time I read this in class, this very much reminded me not of my own experiences but of my little sister’s. She has lived in my shadow her whole life and its been very detrimental. The lines “No one told me how process isn’t linear” and “I do not know what I look like. I do not try to look at myself” were the biggest sources of impact to my personal resonation with the piece. The healing line I wrote almost identically in my own piece for this prompt and is a very consistent theme and reminder I try to incorporate in my own writing. It was kind of cool to see it elsewhere too. The next line resonated because as an invisibly disabled crazy ass mentally ill nonbinary fucker I have a super complex relationship with my physical body. I go days without looking in mirrors sometimes and don’t even notice. As I wash my hands, brush my teeth, etc. my eyes are always down. Whether this stems from dysphoria and my body never looking like what I hope it does or feel it should, or my crazy ass not being able to decipher reality from imagination more often than I would care to admit, things never really line up with what is in my mind. So, this line was a new way of putting into words something that I feel a lot. Thank you for that.
    I really liked how your writing interwove your stories with imagery of actual hair. One thing we discussed though was style vs purpose and the importance of writing simply to write. I feel your writing can go deeper; that there is a lot of focus on what will this look like/sound like rather than I need to write this for me and what happens happens. The rest always seems to fall in place in my experience. The imagery and poetics fade away in importance when you start embracing writing simply for writing; something entirely new and even more beautiful is often formed when just writing from the heart.

    Thank you for sharing this piece!

    Like

  2. taheera1 says:

    Briana
    This was so powerful. I enjoyed the way that you took me on a journey, and I loved the way that you broke it up which was like a guide through the journey. A line that resonated with me so much was, “The longer the hair, the longer the lies, the memories trapped in the strands.” It was so beautiful. I really was able to grasp the thought that the people who surrounded you kind of stifled who you were becoming and made you conform to what they wanted you to be, rather than who you knew you were.
    I also loved the line, “My body was never mine. It was only in scrapes and bruises when I was able to engage with myself, wearing them like badges.” That line was so powerful. It connected so well with the last stanza regarding the way that your sense of self is skewed because of all the comparisons and stifling that has occurred in your life. You also had such beautiful imagery. The only suggestion that I may have is possibly going more in depth about your reclamation process and that journey (if you are comfortable with it). It was a really beautiful piece.

    Like

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