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Wishful Invisibility (poetry)
a poem about shrinking as a means of survival but later discovering that being seen no longer needs to be a threat; it is the key to thriving!
As a child, I was small but often wished I could be smaller... invisible even. I was convinced that if I didn't voice my needs, didn't draw too much attention towards myself, and "stayed in line," I'd be treated neutrally at the very least. I wasn't expecting kindness at the time, just "not pain," "not the total absence of healthy love." Slowly but surely, I'm reclaiming my starglow, and it's a beautiful yet terrifying process. Who knew being seen could be such a healing force! Here's to overflowing instead of whirlpooling into yourself until you no longer see, know, feel yourself. The inspiration behind this poem actually stemmed from a recent vet visit for my cat's checkup. When the vet reached into her carrier, she scrunched into the corner of it and crouched as much as possible, tail tucked underneath her. The vet mentioned that cats try to appear smaller when scared in hopes that they become less visible to potential threats. While I didn't physically try to make myself appear smaller, I sure did it figuratively all throughout my childhood (and still do at times) as a form of self-protection from threats of my own.
Cats make themselves appear smaller when scared,
shedding fur, crouching, tucking their tails into their tense bodies.
It’s an instinct to
whirlpool into myself too,
whittling myself down to
Most kids wanted that superpower for fun,
but I so direly needed it,
so how can anyone ask me not to shrink myself?
That’s how I survived all my jailtime as a child
adultified who was “
so wise beyond their years,”
tucking fear in so tightly
and for so long that
the cobwebs got to it.
As my peers focused on growing up gradually,
I’d shrink down in size like a feline.
If no one can see me, I thought,
no one can seize my core parts
and devour them like
all-you-can-eat hors d'oeuvres.
“Now you see me, now you don’t.”
That’s how much younger self stayed afloat.
Little did I know, the art of feeling seen
is essential to the art of healing.
So counterintuitive to the soul
who had no choice
but to master hide and seek,
hiding even from me.
But I think—no, I know
I can increase the volume of my starglow again
and take up space and be perfectly okay.
This galaxy I’m rebuilding is finally safe.
Cats purr like biplane motors, expose their underbellies,
and make the best biscuits in town when happy and secure.