When I Was Younger

When I was younger I’d paint my eyes black;

I’d roll into the back of my own head,

my body would writhe

and tiny beetles would scamper under my skin.

When I was younger I’d swallow the pills;

one to make me taller,

one to make me smaller,

one to harden up.

But how could I be hard in those fluid surroundings? In a slippery – wet world where I’d slip into myself? It’s sink or swim, it’s die or fit in, a world where you can try and try, but you will never, ever win

A world without lifesavers, a world where young girls like me, who never learnt to swim, are left to drown.

When I was younger I’d crawl back “home”

soaking wet and dirty

Like a dog

grating my fingernails against the concrete

burying my nose in my sins

A new set of markings where I’d clawed at my own flesh

A new set of eyes slowly sinking in.

When I was younger I thought I could fly!

I thought leaping out that window was a sure – fire way to soar and if this is all that living was, I didn’t want life anymore

When I was younger

I calculated how much I’d be missed

I calculated the times I’d been raped divided by the amount of times I’d been kissed

I calculated the speed and the size of the truck

And the timing I’d step out onto the road, and then with any luck…

When I was younger I was saved.

And all this time I just thought I wasn’t brave.

Naomi van der Ploeg Naomi van der Ploeg Naomi van der Ploeg

Photos: Naomi van der Ploeg

Model: Me. “When I was Younger.”

©

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