i imagine popping back in time and finding nine-year-old me,
that little girl who had just had her first taste of agency in deciding
she was—i am—
that little girl who chewed her lower lip and wondered aloud
if she could eat the chicken skin because it wasn’t the meat really
and the chicken was already gone anyway,
and who thought, bathing in the scent of grocery-store dead bird
that this was a difficult decision.
i think of taking her by the hand and telling her she will grow up to be
a pro-choice feminist, bisexual, extraverted, loud, a social butterfly, still single at age 20, a gossip, motherly, flirtatious, masculine, with short, dark hair, large breasts, and an eating disorder
i consider squatting close to the ground and telling her how much she’ll love popular music, producing, cell phones, going to the gym, men’s tuxedos, not having free time, and burlesque dancing
i know that she would pull away from me,
glare at me in distrust
yell at me to stop lying,
and insist she’ll never be that way
i know her, i know me
i do not for a moment imagine telling her that falling in love will be far from the best thing that happens to her.
i would not tell her that it will get better—even though it will.
i would not tell her that she will make friends—even though she will.
i would not tell her to stop crying—yes, i know she will,
but fuck if i don’t wish i still could.
"don’t eat the chicken skin,"
would be all that i would tell her.
“and watch out for gelatin, too.”