archives, poetry

For All the Girls in Red. {poetry}


Beneath the dark red moon I found you
A lone wolf hiding from the wind.
I sold my soul for a quick view
To witness my darkness
Merge with your darkness and unfold in light.
You told me you feared the girl in red
The one whose knees you helped scrape
As you clipped her wings and pushed her to fall.
You told me you had not seen her since her death
Her eyes widened in terror, her arms spread, too weak for her armor —
her skin as blue as your eyes.
You told me you left her on the stone-cold dirt,
Raised her grave and buried her
as low as Bluebeard’s wives.
You expected me to be afraid.
To tremble and shudder in the cold,
To carry my basket of goods back home.
You did not know that I commanded the wind,
Burned my feet on flames when I walked on fire
Climbed towers frequently to let down my hair.
You knew me as the girl with no name, a girl you could not place.
You did not recognize my long dark hair or the hips, the same hips
You once hugged like a corset.
I told you to spread my bones wide open
into a hollowed-out cage,
to shelter your starving heart
from the storm.
To keep my soul under lock and key
so you could feed off its light —
sink your teeth into my skin
with your razorblade bite.
I wrapped my legs around your waist
arched my back and watched you drink.
You poured your falsehoods into my flesh
Drained my resistance to self-doubt,
Implanted seeds bred from life and death
In my brain to grow far and wide, a kingdom of obscenities.
You tucked my feet into glass slippers
like a noose that also wrung my neck.
Yet the power that pulses like blood
through your veins
will never be your own.
You will never own
my spirit that still roams free —
The one you’ve chased after so many times
The bird you hunted endlessly —
Just so you could crush
Its wings.
The girl in red will always live.
She will rise again and again,
Rapunzel weaving your hatred into gold.
No matter how many times you twist her
Wrists or her words, taunt her existence or feed her your lies
Distort her image in the mirror or dig your claws into her skin —
No matter how many times you try to make her forget
That the Divine lives within her, that the
Divine is a river flowing through the skin
You’ve dug under your nails.
All of it is a part of her — stardust, hope, faith, the courage it takes to be trapped
Inside of your own mind and heal the bars from within.
The ability to dissolve
Your words on the tip of her tongue like ice,
turning her pain into a path you can never follow.
Setting on flames her glass tomb —
Transforming your torment
into resurrection, her trauma
into her revolution.


Shahida Arabi is the bestselling author of Becoming the Narcissist’s Nightmare and founder of Self-Care Haven, a popular blog for trauma survivors. She is also the writer of the new poetry collection, She Who Destroys the Light: Fairy Tales Gone Wrong.


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