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She/I was 13 by Treasa Nealon


This piece is inspired by Waris Dirie model, author, actress and human rights activist in the fight against Female Genital Mutilation

I was five.
(She was five.)
And I was learning,
ABC’S and 123’s and 
the meaning of unconditional love.
(She was learning to squeeze her eyes shut
And how to swallow a scream before it escaped).

I was 13
(She was 13)
And I devoured books while I balanced on the precipice 
Of lingering childhood and awkward knowliness
In the safety of my home.
(She ran from the safety of her home,
From a marriage to a man,
Who five times her age would 
Have destroyed any sense of self she had).

I was a teenager
(She was a teenager)
And I bitched and I moaned and I slammed doors,
And I was unknowingly spoiled as I had the world at my feet
By circumstance and privilege.
(She found herself homeless in London 
And taught herself to read and write as 
She bleached away the conversations and mistakes of strangers 
From a McDonalds floor.
And when she was stopped on the street and
Given a business card that would change her life,
She smiled.)


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