She, Me

It is invisible
but smothering
Cobwebs wisps
perceptible
in a wayward sunbeam
confine
like silver shackles.
They pull
in two directions
my soul
writhing in discomfort
of opposing forces.

A woman is powerful,
one says
by her sexuality
she can dominate
and control
through her skin
stapled to the billboards
painted on the magazines
written indelibly
upon the communal subconscious.
She must
match
the pictures
to be feminine
to be a woman.

A woman is powerful,
another says
through her submissiveness.
She can serve
in meekness
woven into her
floral dresses
and tinkling laughter.
She must love
crafts and pink
all things sweet.
She must be
the ideal
to be feminine
to be a woman.

Am I free?
Is freedom perception
or reality?
I appear free
but am bound.
Can I appear
unfeminine
but be free?

The struggle
like a thousand parading models
like a hundred god-fearing women
march across my body.
I gasp
for air
and I find it
briefly
and then
it is gone.
But those moments
are enough
to be feminine
to be a woman
to be myself.

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