Lydia Havens "Derived from 'defiance'"

 PC: Rebecca Robinson

PC: Rebecca Robinson

“Come to me feathered & fayed // for I am the ugliest prey // for I am the ugliest prey”

—Sufan Stevens, “The Owl and The Tanager”


In case you wanted to know // I do remember the first time I was called ugly // 4th
grade on the playground // by a kid named Bradley // He said that word and it just
became fact // easy as the sky // I remember tucking my entire body behind the slide
to cry // I remember tasting blood but not knowing where it was coming from // I
still don’t // Maybe the taste of blood is just the truth trying to make itself known //
and maybe this has always been trying to become the truth // but I got my first
pimple on Picture Day in the 1st grade // I haven’t stopped erupting since // and glory
be to the brave Proactiv kiosk workers at the mall // that suddenly become experts
on my life as soon as they see me // all the old men at Safeway // the clerk at Lens
Crafters // the boy in the courtyard of my old high school // Yes // give me your ivory
soap // and apple cider vinegar // and one-of-a-kind $59 product // I have always been
hungry for what I’ve always known about // Tell me more about how you still think
I’m beautiful // despite what’s always sitting at the surface // My skin is made of
dormant recklessness // and I guess it’s kind of funny how over time ugly has stopped
being an insult for me // Maybe it’s the truth // but maybe I’ve just found ways to
make it synonymous with beautiful // Don’t ask me how // I just know that I’ve always
enjoyed giving words new etymologies // I enjoy giving myself new etymologies //
Everything I am derived from is stubborn // including my skin // I don’t understand
why you’d think I’d stop bursting // for you.