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Too Pretty

By Sunu P. Chandy

October on the subway, roses at my side
kids being loud. One skinny girl
with a cap and a pretty smile
gets up to give me her seat
and takes this chance to sit
on her friend’s lap. I read the paper
and look over at these girls. So free
and easy they are laughing laughing.
I look at the pink pink roses
and how I say I am not a romantic
and how this whole roses thing
is going to ruin my reputation
against romance. I watch the girls. I watch
the skinny girl in boy’s clothes and pretty smile
flirt with all the other girls. So free
and easy they are laughing laughing.

And the man next to me, he is also watching watching.
And the man next to me, he leans over and says to me:

Hey Miss, Hey Miss, that’s too pretty to be a boy, right?

As if somehow that thought disgusts him.
As if he wants some agreement about this disgust.
And me I am just relieved that he knows
that I am a Miss and not a pretty boy. So I just shrug
and I say nothing because it is 1997 and I am still
afraid. Afraid to say what does a she look like
and what does a boy look like. And what does too pretty
look like and what is your problem exactly. And I don’t know
whether his disgust is that he thinks girls who look
like boys should be beat
up or boys who look like girls should be beat
up because, in fact, we know, they both are. I only know
that I was relieved that he did not know my pink
pink roses were for a girl and somehow I have this safety
of passing and I think to myself:
You all sitting there laughing laughing
sitting there on your sixth grade girlfriend’s lap
so free and easy, laughing laughing,
be safe my handsome girls, be safe my pretty boys.

Added: Friday, July 1, 2016  /  Used with permission.
Sunu P. Chandy

Sunu P. Chandy has performed poems and conducted writing workshops for twenty years. She facilitated writing groups in college in Indiana, for women in Kerala, India, and most recently with Split This Rock’s 2016 festival and on-going workshops. Sunu majored in Women’s Studies and Peace and Global Studies at Earlham College. Sunu completed her law degree from Northeastern University in 1998 and has practiced as a civil rights attorney since 1999. In 2013, Sunu completed her MFA in poetry from Queens College, CUNY. During her MFA, Sunu developed a course in Creative Nonfiction focused on social justice. Sunu has served on the boards of organizations such as the Audre Lorde Project (ALP). Sunu’s creative work can be found in Beltway Poetry Quarterly, Asian American Literary Review, Poets on Adoption, Voices of Brooklyn: Writings from the Women of Color Writers’ Workshop and in This Bridge We Call Home: Radical Visions for Transformation.

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