Student Essays Published in Guernica Magazine

-Zion Decateau, Chynna Seck

That Girl

by Aniqua Tasnim

“Don’t be that girl” my mother would whisper to me

in a voice that tasted like milk and honey
and through my tears, I could never ask
about the task
that would prevent me from being that girl

When I was a child, I was supposed to be the ugly girl
my arms were long branches of a frail tree
mouth full of metal and four-4 eyes that helped me see

eyebrows that sit like a garden of weeds on my face
hairs sprouting like the pricks of a cactus on my lean legs
made visible when I raced

the kids in the playground that laughed at the dots that filled my face like stars in the night
sky
and I remember screaming why
when my aunt’s cackle filled the air
as she told my father about what a shame it was that I was so much darker than my brother

I will never understand why beauty is only found in the light and never in darkness
why things found in the darkness are deemed a mess
until they are again found in the light

Now I am a girl
that makes sure to remind boys that my body is not their home
that they are merely a guest that will be kicked out if they disrespect me or my dome

I am a girl
with a beautiful back
that tells stories that none of the books I love so much have the spine to carry or unpack

I am a girl
who finally has realized the difference between what I need and what I want
who can illuminate the entire city without a second thought
and fill textbooks with the thoughts that run through my mind like speeding cars

I am a girl who can never fit the love in my heart in any of the largest jars
So this is me telling you mom that yes you were right

I AM that girl
and in spite of the word telling me otherwise
I know now that everything I ever needed
exists within myself
and that is a fact that emits a harmonious glow and deserves to be rewarded with a spot on
the highest shelf

I am that girl
That girl who’s going to change the world