If I Had a Penny

A poem

Aabye-Gayle F.

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A surface covered in pennies
“If I had a penny for every time some man’s unwanted attention made me want to disappear or at least shrink down, I could open a bank.” {Photo by Acton Crawford on Unsplash}

If I had a penny for every time some guy looked at me with lecherous eyes, or called me “shorty,” or took liberties with my personal space on a crowded train — If I had a penny for every time some man’s unwanted attention made me want to disappear or at least shrink down, I could open a bank.

If I had a thread for every man walking around with his pants riding underneath the crest of his butt so that I can see boxers or briefs where his back pockets should be; or for every woman insisting that her leggings are pants, and then pairing them with a particularly bold patterned pair of striped or polka-dotted underwear; or for every thong’s triangle living in plain sight — If I had a thread for every time my eyes had to see under posing as outer wear, what a tapestry I could weave.

If my IQ increased every time the futile complaints of a car alarm disturbed my peace, or, with my arms heavy laden, no one held the door open for me, or a driver treated a stop sign like a yield, or a yield sign like an optional amenity — If my IQ increased one point for every inconsiderate or impatient act of incivility, I could solve the world’s problems in a week.

If I had a drop of water for every time I let the pursuit of perfection keep me inactive, clipped the wings of my dreams to keep them grounded, let a hope wilt for lack of attention, or starved a heartfelt desire — If I had a drop of water for every time I let the fear of failure defeat my motivation, I could make Noah’s flood look like an amusement park ride.

If I were to plant a seed every time I look in the mirror and don’t love what I see reflected back at me, or feel uncomfortable in my own skin, or for every criticism and doubt, for every urge to give up, self thrown pity party, or for every panic-stricken bout of insecurity — If I planted a seed every time I was too hard on myself, I could feed the world from my garden’s bounty.

If I became more myself every time my confidence wavered, I dwelt too long on a misstep or mistake, was tempted to conform, blend in, or otherwise abandon the truer version of me, or compared myself to someone else (and found myself wanting) — If I became more myself despite myself, who would I be?

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