self-care as activism

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Aubrie Johnson profile image Aubrie Johnson


A poem about survival.

Photo by Yaopey Yong / Unsplash

she is five, and wants to dream.
the monsters in her mind are grotesque, 
but they protect her;
the monsters in her home snap like dragons as they curl her hair.
they sometimes pretend she does not exist,
leaving her to the monsters beyond.

she is ten, and wants to be included.
her eyes are too shifty, her voice too loud.
she is not yet old enough to understand
that there is nothing she can say
to make herself more palatable,
to make herself less.

she is twenty, and wants to be enough.
her stomach is empty, her clothes are fine.
look like someone other than yourself
and they will trust you.
this is how the game is played.
again and again her mask feeds her,
again and again she must feed the mask.

she is thirty, and wants to be safe.
her mask is dirty, broken, acrid.
she cannot wear it anymore. she will die.
sometimes they pretend she does not exist. she prefers this.
she is five again.
she is dirty, broken, acrid.

she is thirty-four, and wants to dream
of a world where the monsters are kind
and their shifty eyes shine in the sun,
authentic, alive, together, and safe.

she has seen enough monsters by now to know
that the good ones can be found
in the wreckage of the ones in charge,
buried alive with their masks still on.

Aubrie Johnson profile image Aubrie Johnson
Aubrie is a neurodivergent artist, tarot reader and art therapy student. When not making stuff, she's birdwatching or out buying a book (knowing full well she has a tbr stack at home).