a woman’s dna

i am cautious

i watch their every move
i have heard stories of hurt and betrayal
i will not be one to be taken advantage of
i watch
i watch and calculate their proximity
in an empty hallway
in a closed classroom
in an elevator
i stand in the opposite corner
i try to remember what my self-defence instructor taught me
elbows tight, knee to the stomach
if he grabs you, break free
if he grabs you, then scream
if he grabs you – he might take you – just remember the knee
knee to the stomach, elbows and knees
he’s moving closer
is he coming towards me?
my imagination runs wild
i forget how to scream
the elevator has stopped moving and so has he
and for a second – a brief second – panic fills my chest
the elevator door dings
he smiles and leaves
i wait until they close,
breathe a sigh of relief
i’m lucky, i say
not touched or harmed
lucky, i say
didn’t have to sound the alarm
but some girls do
some girls wear whistles around their chest
like stars painted in blood on doors
some girls don’t wear skirts late at night
they know, they’ve been warned
some girls
some girls are not lucky
and that is why i am sorry if i cower away
i am sorry if my fear is misplaced
but it is engrained into my dna
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