“The Type” by Sarah Key

The Type

Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else. -Richard Siken

If you grow up the type of woman men want to look at,
you can let them look at you. But do not mistake eyes for hands.

Or windows.
Or mirrors.

Let them see what a woman looks like.
They may not have ever seen one before.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to touch,
you can let them touch you.

Sometimes it is not you they are reaching for.
Sometimes it is a bottle. A door. A sandwich. A Pulitzer. Another woman.

But their hands found you first. Do not mistake yourself for a guardian.
Or a muse. Or a promise. Or a victim. Or a snack.

You are a woman. Skin and bones. Veins and nerves. Hair and sweat.
You are not made of metaphors. Not apologies. Not excuses.

If you grow up the type of woman men want to hold,
you can let them hold you.

All day they practice keeping their bodies upright–
even after all this evolving, it still feels unnatural, still strains the muscles,

holds firm the arms and spine. Only some men will want to learn
what it feels like to curl themselves into a question mark around you,

admit they do not have the answers
they thought they would have by now;

some men will want to hold you like The Answer.
You are not The Answer.

You are not the problem. You are not the poem
or the punchline or the riddle or the joke.

Woman. If you grow up the type men want to love,
You can let them love you.

Being loved is not the same thing as loving.
When you fall in love, it is discovering the ocean

after years of puddle jumping. It is realizing you have hands.
It is reaching for the tightrope when the crowds have all gone home.

Do not spend time wondering if you are the type of woman
men will hurt. If he leaves you with a car alarm heart, you learn to sing along.

It is hard to stop loving the ocean. Even after it has left you gasping, salty.
Forgive yourself for the decisions you have made, the ones you still call

mistakes when you tuck them in at night. And know this:
Know you are the type of woman who is searching for a place to call yours.

Let the statues crumble.
You have always been the place.

You are a woman who can build it yourself.
You were born to build.

The Type” by Sarah Key, published in Alright and on the Huffington Post.

* Sarah mentions in her performance that this poem is inspired by a line from “Detail of the Woods” by Richard Siken (shared on Words for the Year yesterday): “…Everyone needs a place. It shouldn’t be inside of someone else.”

“B” (If I Should Have a Daughter) by Sarah Kay

*

If I should have a daughter, instead of mom, she’s going to call me Point B,

because that way she knows that no matter what happens,
at least she can always find her way to me.

And I am going to paint the Solar Systems on the backs of her hands,
so she has to learn the entire universe before she can say ‘Oh, I know that like the back of my hand’

And she’s going to learn that this life will hit you,
hard,
in the face,
wait for you to get back up, just so it can kick you in the stomach
but getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air.

There is hurt, fear that cannot be fixed by band aids or poetry
so the first time she realizes that Wonder Woman isn’t coming
I’ll make sure she knows she does not have to wear the cape all by herself
because no matter how wide you stretch your fingers,
your hands will always be too small to catch all the pain you want to heal.

Believe me, I’ve tried

And baby, I’ll tell her, don’t keep your nose up in the air like that
I know that trick, I’ve done it a million times
You’re just smelling for smoke so you can follow the trail
back to a burning house so you can find the boy who lost everything in the fire
to see if you can save him.

Or else find the boy who lit the fire in the first place to see if you can change him
But I know she will anyway, so instead, I’ll always keep an extra supply of chocolate
and rainboots nearby.

Because there is no heartbreak that chocolate can’t fix.
Ok, there’s a few heartbreaks that chocolate can’t fix,
but that’s what the rainboots are for because rain will
wash away everything if you let it.

I want her to look at the world through the underside of a glass bottomed boat
To look through a microscope at the galaxies that exist on the pinpoint of a human mind
Because that’s the way my mom taught me.

That there’ll be days like this
that there’s be days like this my mama said
When you open your hands to catch, and wind up with only blisters and bruises.
When you step out of the phone booth and try to fly

And the very people you want to save are the ones standing on your cape
When your boots will fill with rain and you’ll be up to your knees in disappointment
and those are the very days you have all the more reason to say thank you

because there’s nothing more beautiful than the way the ocean refuses to stop
kissing the shoreline no matter how many times it is sent away.

You will put the win in winsome … lose some
You will put the star in starting over and over.

And no matter how many landmines erupt in a minute
be sure your mind lands on the beauty of this funny place called life.
And yes, on a scale from one to overtrusting, I am pretty damn naive.

But I want her to know that this world is made out of sugar.
It can crumble so easily.
But don’t be afraid to stick your tongue out and taste it.
Baby, I’ll tell her, remember your mama is a worrier
and your papa is a warrior.

And you’re the girl with small hands and big eyes who never stops asking for more.
Remember that good things come in threes and so do bad things and
always apologize when you’ve done something wrong

but don’t you ever apologize for the way your eyes refuse to stop shining,
your voice is small but don’t ever stop singing.

And when they finally hand you a heartache,
when they slip war and hatred under your door and offer you handouts on street corners
of cynicism and defeat, you tell them that
they
really ought to meet your mother.

B” (If I Should Have a Daughter) by Sarah Kay, B