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The School Girl

September 16, 2013



:: Original Poem by Sharifa Brooks-Smith-Lowe ::




They showed her how to form letters
and how to pronounce words,
But never how to express them as hers.

They told her how to act
exactly what and what not to do,
confined her mind,
making her believe she was wrong or right.

They kept a close watch,
’round the clock.
Buckled her down,
any uneasiness
resolved with disheartened shame,

deliberate to scar her person,
her own righteous self.
A young girl exploring,
the chilling reality of the world,

the seemingly impossible possibilities of being something else.
something else,
something more,
it was more unattainable than she could imagine
Not being allowed to explore the being she is supposed to be.

Being manufactured with ‘good morals and virtues’.
Penalized for having her first button undone.
Her excuse, “I’m feeling hot.”
And what if she is?
But no not that,
She’s apparently being vulgar,
attempting to attract the boy kind,
attempting to ‘demoralize’ her self, her mind.

She dare not lift her skirt to pull down her shirt.
She dare not hug that boy for too long.
She dare not speak out against a teacher misusing their authority,
Because that doesn’t exist?
She dare not show an inch of skin above her knee while sitting, make physical movements too wildly, express extremely opinionated thoughts.
She dare not make a pathetic excuse for not cutting her nails, not keeping neat hair, not keeping pristine shoes, or shouting across the classroom.

“What unladylike behaviour!”

She’s can’t even be her own ethnicity.
She can’t show off her black hair.
But hides it behind her head,
while her hairline reluctantly follows.
Her friends with ‘long, soft, pretty’ hair
can wear their simple ponytails
But because her hair puffs, curls,
and doesn’t move a bit when the wind hits
She can’t wear it out.
She has to manage it in the morning,
make sure it’s not too on the crown of her head,
make sure nothing is covering her face,
make sure it doesn’t puff,
make sure it’s neat,
make sure she has four items or less.

She’s taught to despise a part of who she is.

Haven’t you realized?
It’s a dual burden.
“Do well academically.”
“Follow the school rules.”

These are the school rules,
But have betrayed such a name,
Truly they are the,
“How you look, how you’re perceived, and how you should be.”
The life of the school girl.
She’s me.


SharifaLoweSharifa Brooks-Smith-Lowe is a Grenadian secondary school student. She is currently preparing to tackle her CXC examinations next year. She enjoys creative writing and crafts. Sharifa is prone crying at the drop of a dime, usually for something she finds overwhelmingly pleasant. She is looking forward to graduating, “a change of scenery would be nice.”

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Barbara permalink
    September 17, 2013 9:22 am

    How this poem strikes at my heart–i think its more about suppression of whom we are as we learn about life –“speak your mind–but dont say that””be yourself-but dont do that” yes its so true–and i am of “pale complexion”.! xox

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