Week 15 – Please, Stop Calling Me Beautiful

I don’t often preface my poems. This week, the hashtag, and really, movement, of #metoo came alive on Twitter and Facebook. It is very hard for me to speak about my experiences, that these things have happened to me. So I do what I do best, and I wrote about them.

I wrote this poem a week after I attended the American League Wild Card Game at Yankee Stadium with my dad. I love baseball, I love baseball with my father, and I was so excited to take him to see Aaron Judge hit a home run. This poem is the story of my trip home from Penn Station in the New York City subway system, after my dad and I had split, so he could go home to New Jersey, and I could go home to Brooklyn.

Please, enjoy. This one is so near and dear to my heart.

Please, Stop Calling Me Beautiful

Please, stop calling me beautiful.

It is 12:30am and I’ve just dropped my father off at NJ Transit,
My sweater still smells a little bit like ballpark and the chants of the Wild Card game still echo in my head.
I am ready to go home, anticipating work tomorrow,
I walk all the way back through the A train corridors to arrive at the local track.

You walk behind me, call me beautiful and I take my headphones out, you call me beautiful again and I smile, you follow me as I walk to the stairs and I wonder if I will ever find a corner I can hide in, but the subway is empty and again you call me beautiful.

You ask me why, you ask me, you say beautiful, why can’t we be friends.

I smile because now you give me no voice.

We can’t be friends because you act like it’s a favor as you tell me you’ll leave me alone, act like it’s a favor that I walk down the platform to a different car, sit still and straight for the trip home but also can’t sit still, knowing that going home from a baseball game can’t ever be as simple as it is for my father, for my brother, for my friend.

I can be told to get home safe, to text when I unlock my door,
I can be told to watch my purse and be aware of my surroundings,
Keep my headphones in and let the men slip around me like the taxis on the street.
I can be told to take trains early, to stick with crowds, to call an Uber, to do any of the many things women know from childhood,
A subway ride home from the Yankees game at midnight is a bad idea, a game of chance, a lottery.

I wonder when it will be the time you show me and don’t tell me that you think I’m beautiful, when you don’t give me a choice to run away.

I know I am beautiful.
But.

Please, stop calling me beautiful.

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