Peer Review by the.greater.odyssey (United States)

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Dad, when will I grow up to be big and strong?

By: Sofia Miller


PROMPT: On Courage

In my generation,
the television celebrates brave women, sporty women,
women who pry the earth apart and run a marathon after,
Olympic women, bleeding gold like the gods of old, who don laurel crowns and stretch
toward the heavens.
When the sun is slitted in between your triumphs
and illuminates only some of us,
 
I will be here, sitting like a duck in your lake of a shadow,
attempting to fashion a crown out of wilted carnations,
staring at the hollow in my left shoulder
a souvenir from freshman winter when eating was less important than other things,
the skin pasted to bone like soaked shirts in a water balloon fight.
I will be here, feeling the part of myself more skeleton than life,
Did you think that you deserved to bleed gold?
I will be here, watching the television, age six when I pretend to not be scared by the action movie my father loves.
I will be here, rollerblading with the boys of my neighborhood in grade three because
girls have so much more drama.
I will be here, stuffing my dresses into crevices of my closet that will never see light,
never replacing them even when I grow out of my favorite, built from green embroidered cloth
because in elementary school,
my father tells his friends I am a tomboy,
and he says it with the glow of relief, like thank goodness frills and unicorns are behind her,
thank goodness she will be a strong woman.
I will be here, swallowing my fear and its smoke signals,
convexing inward onto myself
as I try to appear unfazed, face of glass as a spider crouches where it should not crouch.
I will be here, on the outside
face pressed against a window, wondering what it takes to be admitted inside,
wondering exactly when I lost my ticket, or if I ever had one at all.
 
And I will be here at age 16, too.
Finally learning to unfold the pieces of myself I’ve stuffed into crevices, holding their hand as they blink into the light again,
buying a skirt and wearing it too,
coloring with pastel pink, picking up the shreds of rejected childhood femininity from my bedroom floor and patching them into a dress,
donning a tube top and leaving the house without
a jacket to draw a curtain over my shoulders
because these things take time.
I will be here,
braiding flowers from the gardens of my grandmother and aunt on Midsummer’s,
dancing with a crown of carnations that belong on my head,
surrounded by the strongest women I know.

 


Peer Review

The way you trust yourself at the end, you are so certainly you. Take the broken pieces of who you were and patch them into who you are. As you grow, you learn and glow with bravery in a strength of being whoever the hell you want to be. And I find that so brilliantly courageous.


I am left with the reminder of being called a tomboy, the remembrance of when my father sighed with relief because he never had a little boy; it was just me. I am left with the memory of when I started wearing color again, never losing my love of baggie clothing, but gaining a love for the way skirts twirl around my knees. I was so impressively left with a feeling of acceptance for who I am today and who I was years ago and as a writer, making someone feel less alone is a talent altogether.


Reviewer Comments

Thank you for yanking these words out of the shadows of society's back. Thank you for putting them into something so simply put, any one should at least hear the cry of those who fought to be everything their parents wanted them to be, who fought to be strong because pink was for princesses and if you weren't one of the boys then you needed to be protected by them. This is so raw that it shook me to my very core; the dresses I despised, the boys I preferred to be around, the times I skipped meals because I've got to stay strong and the girls on TV are way stronger looking than me, the times my father seemed to push roughness on me, and the times my femininity seemed like a curse. Everything about this piece screams about the courage it takes to be so intimately you. And thank you for that.