Paper Dolls

By Gila Efrat

From a young age,
They told us to always be ourselves.

And so I did.

From a young age,
They told me to love myself.

And so I did.

From a young age,
They told me who I was.

And so I was.

From a young age,
They told us that boys will be boys
And girls will always be girls.
At the end of the day
They are parallels;
Two opposites
Like dogs and cats.
Not scientific but we claim it is.
Not set in stone but we think it is.

From a young age,
They told me to always be myself,
But not if that self is:
A rebel,
A deformation,
A defamation to your definition –
An abomination; that’s what you meant.

And so I am a bomb
Ticking ever so loudly
Without even a spark;
I don’t need to speak because I explode in my silence.
This identity, you see, is an act of defiance;
To heal myself in my own sacreligion.
How do I love myself
When I am taught to follow such divisions?
And so I am a bomb;
A dangerous weapon to society
Without the effort of my trying.

Some told me I was only fooling myself;
That I chose this path
And I should be my ‘real’ self instead;
The one that that fits so well in your cut-out paper dolls.
The child whose dreams were crushed because they could never be that
mould no matter how hard they tried.
No matter if
They cut their soul out too,
Stuck on another body with some school glue
So that everyone could see through all the rough edges
That this falseness they would put on
Is transparent and senseless.

They tell me I will find no lover.
‘Lovers’, that weak and exclusive term,
That mystery to me.
Because they know,
They can see:
This is not my area of expertise;
I’m loud,
I’m scary,
and I admit no defeat.
I’m relentless,
I’m restless
And that intimidates many.

What unfairest maiden,
What secret boychild;
Who would love such a thing
They have been taught to hate?
Change yourself!
(A solution)
As if that’s my only fate.
And so instead,
I’ll wait
For someone to love me
As much as I love myself.
I know that it confuses you
To encounter this taboo.
But I cannot relate
To the word ‘lovers’.
I can’t distinguish between one or the other.
I’m clueless;
I always have been

Gila Efrat, an 18 year old, non-binary poet from Noordhoek. They are passionate about Progressive Judaism, social justice, film and music.