According to my Upbringing by Toluwanimi Obiwole Denver Youth Poet Laureate

1. my auntie believed there were words a little girl should never yell
like “no”
no is too much of a sinkhole, stretches her mouth and fills it with sand
no one wants a girl with more rocks than all the stars inside her ready to throw
“why”
everyone is afraid that if they ask loud enough god will answer and they will have to listen
little girls have the power to ask and make everyone listen

2. there are ways a little girl should never be able to bend her spine
over something so frail like self-worth
her body so powerful will earthquake all over it
and the world will tell her to become smaller
trade power for smallness that won’t scare them

3. little girls can scare the life out of anything
and little girls have been scaring the life out of your boot-stomping patriarchy since the dawn of time
perhaps this is why we hold them like near-invisible pieces of thread
ready to be dropped and lost at moment’s notice
stretched and twisted through the needle’s eye to be called useful
naming them fragile, like fragile will make them easier to cut and use
but with every drop of blood from scraped knee they
they remind us that
the ability to be broken does not quantify fragility
little girls do not break silently
they will crash and make you swallow the glass of their fragments

4. never challenge a girl to a fight you are too sure you will win
you will lose
like fishing boat to mississippi river tide
her mouth is unforgiving despite the smiles

5. little girls know the thunderclap of survival
how to be a lightning storm when provoked
there is nothing scarier than a girl who knows when to push back

the rosebud is nature’s most deceptive fist

6. little tomboy girls are not often told they are beautiful but stay awake at night with a flashlight to tell it to themselves, they paint their own rose petals red until the world will tell them to stop

but beware of the ones that don’t

7. when the bough of girlhood finally breaks and the water comes rushing in and the fish with their mouths flapping telling you to now be woman now be the body the world will
simultaneously pray in and desecrate  their mouths are just gasping for air
you are the dam that must withstand it all

8. no one really ever tells you how to mold this whirlwind of nature: thunder and water and earthquake into woman. sometimes little girl is just too stubborn to let her waves settle, so the body keeps growing with a storm inside it

9. sometimes becoming woman starts with digesting the harvest of little girl little ocean little mississippi river tide consuming everything even the thorns and the alligators the catcalls the world praying the broken rosebud fists so tired of fighting when the glass has all been broken becoming woman is letting girl stretch into lightning storm just to make room for everything she must learn to carry.

10. womanhood can be the revenge for girlhood
and ain’t nothing scarier than a black body that you can’t kill

Sofia Snow