Less to Lose

I have less to lose and,
I have less to lose.
I’m short-
dated stock.
Damaged but
might make a nice accessory
to your ego
or your diversity quota.

I’ll play the disability card
if it gives you a moral hard-on
baby,
pity me.
Let me be your
inspirational story
your
two-dimensional trope
a point to measure
it could be worse
a narrative so deeply internalised
this must be what they mean by
having a spare rib.

The black bib
to hide the blood
adorned on me at birth
My bread and butter.
Wash it down with
intense feelings of isolation, and
all the times I made
molehills
out of mountains.

I grew up knowing
I’m pretty
passable
as long as I don’t speak.
I speak anyway.
and let’s face it
I do have to be better than
you
meet someone new and,
hope they see
your
polished Instagram selfie
I walk in and,
that ship has already sailed.
Hashtag nofilter.
I don’t need you anyway
denial is my best friend
and we go
way,           way,         back.

I remember thinking
I can’t be
stupid and fat
I remember thinking
I’m not stupid
I remember thinking
it’s ok if I’m pretty? 

(Yeah I bet you didn’t mean it that way.)

Is that self-esteem or denial talking?

And
all the times I spoke
you mouthed words back at me.
patronising hand-hold
makes my skull turn inside out.
Shove those words down my throat baby,
spoon-feed me while you’re at it.
Cerebral palsy didn’t make me blind.

Wash it down with
violets for breakfast
and this
homogenised breastmilk
I am weening myself of
I am starving myself of

maybe if I get small enough
they won’t notice my speech.
I could probably take
a selfie
that would make me look good enough.

And
just look how big
your body looks
next to mine.
Throw me around babe
I’m the perfect combination of
pretty
with low self-esteem.
Toosmalltofightyouoff
I’m your dream girl.

Wash it down with
red wine
the natural healing properties
of turpentine,
and memories
of when your father taught you
the most humane thing to do
with an injured bird
is to break its neck.

About the author
Maisie is an artist, poet, and teacher based in Wellington, New Zealand. She is co-editor and production manager of art-poetry zine "Salty."