He tells me to smile, says my dimples
are more pronounced when I close my mouth.
My stomach sinks when I think about how,
from now on, I’m going to open my mouth,
let my coffee-stained teeth shine- strengthen
my spine to not bend at the whim of a man again.
No one gets to define what makes me
beautiful because only I will have to live
with the consequences of careless words,
what he defines as a compliment that,
in retrospect, makes me feel like an ornament
he wants to perfect to his own liking.
But I am more than the sum total of the
dimples on my cheeks or the angry, red
streaks that mar my thighs, or the “compliments”
of a nice guy. I am more than outward appearances,
sexual experiences, or the clearances society allows me
because all I have left is my sanity and my ability
to say, “no.”