Welcome to Girlhood Is a Spectrum
This exhibition is comprised of selected submissions of creative works inspired by the memes with this text that celebrate the versatility of girlhood, from ethereality to creepiness, from fawn-like to Kafkaesque.
We invited contributions to speak on the girlhood flux in the language of poetry, prose, or images. What are the poles of this spectrum for you and what lies in-between?
As you will see, we received many great pieces that engaged with the main theme differently.
From darkness to spirituality, from drama to play, these texts and artworks await you, the reader and viewer…what meanings will you find?
Girlhood by August Fritton
i don’t know how to tell you
i miss girlhood
but can’t pursue womanhood.
a girl with a bob stands next to a barbie doll birthday cake
candy letters read
happy birthday, hope
across the front.
i don’t know where my barbies went
but i’m sitting in a movie theater
crying as margo robbie goes to the gynecologist.
a girl with a bob lies on the bedroom floor
listening to the album speak now by taylor swift
hears the words never grow up
and doesn’t listen.
i don’t own that CD anymore
but i use the men’s restroom at a taylor swift concert
with a baby pink mullet and glitter on my eyes
a girl with a bob sees the blood for the first time
and is inundated with messages
celebrating her welcome to womanhood.
i don’t know how
i traded pads with floral wrappers
for vials of testosterone.
a girl with a bob tries on a bra for the first time
and a boy with a buzz cut takes his off for the last.
To the little girl inside me by Namrata Mukherjee
Today you are a girl, tomorrow you will be a woman. It’s a story that you are going to write. A story that, even if no one else reads, you will read it, yourself. It’s your story, by you, for you.
Remember, that you are the hero of this story. Do not let anyone else take that place or make you believe that they are worthy of taking that place. You own your story, from the beginning, to the end.
But then girl, this is not just a story. This is you, this is your journey, your life, your love, your spirituality. You make it. So go ahead, and be. Be all that you wanna be, do all that you wanna do. Be in love, be out of love, make love, give love, to yourself. Don’t let anyone else or wait for anyone else to hold your hand. Don’t let anyone else show you the light. You are your own light, remember that.
Darkness will come, but you should shine so much light on it, that the darkness will fall in love with you. Ride on the wings of sorrow with so much happiness that even the sorrow smiles and falls in love with you. Sing all the songs in your heart, dance to the tunes of your soul melodies.
Remember, girl, the world is yours. Believe in yourself, believe in your story, make the world believe in it. See you out there, leading, living and loving.
July 10th by Whitney Hamilton
In the cemetery by Nadezhda Avdeenko
I remember it pretty well, the first day I came to the cemetery. We went there with my family and started cleaning up.
At first, granny gave me a stick asking to clean the fence and collect the old leaves in a heap. I squatted down and I began removing the leaves carefully from the ground.
Many graves were surrounded by fences. The monuments there were made of iron. On top of it, there was either a cross or the hammer and sickle. Hammer and Sickle means USSR.
At first, I was raking far away from the grave, somewhere by the fence as I didn’t know how to do it right. To be honest, I was just scared, because I didn’t know if the coffin was deep in the ground or close to the surface. Looking at gran fearlessly clearing the grave, I moved a bit closer and started to clear off the leaves from the stones.
Before coming there, we bought some artificial flowers. I got a few beautiful roses. If you didn’t touch them, they looked just like the real ones. Even drops of water looked real.
We attached the flowers to a tree beside the fence. Although the tree was young and quite short, I couldn’t reach it and grandpa helped me with that. The tree leaves were small and green. I imagined how nice it would be when all of them unfold.
After the cleaning, gran set the table. The adults kept on talking about great-grandfather. Everybody said that he was a handsome man. They also said that he had some issues with blood pressure. When they started talking about medicine, I stopped listening. I was wondering around the grave, looking around, dreaming about something.
I imagined that I were a small fairy or Thumbelina flying from monument to monument, swinging on the fence, jumping on flowers and headstones. As a fairy, I could climb the tree and touch the drops to check if they were not real drops of water.
Standing there, I suddenly realized I wanted to pee.
There was no toilet around. Grandma told me to go farther away, where nobody could see me, and hide behind a bush.
– Be careful of mites. They can bite your booty! – she said.
When I peed, I stood up, put on my trousers and tried to get back to the family. It turned out that I got lost. You see, it’s so easy to lose your way at the cemetery. As if, it were a labyrinth, and I was stuck in a deadlock.
I saw somebody’s monument and a spruce tree branch hanging above. I saw two candies on top of the headstone. The candies wraps were so nice. I was thrilled to find them.
The first one I immediately put into my mouth and the other one I put into the pocket. I thought it was miracle. “A fairy could have left it! Was it me she brought the candy?” – I thought. I took the candy, stepped over a fence, which was quite short, and went on searching for gran and others.
Soon after, I found the path and found my family.
I came up to mum and gave her the candy thinking how excited she would be.
Mom thanked me and started to unwrap it, when she stopped and asked:
– Where did you get it from?
– I found it somewhere there.
Everybody was laughing and I didn’t know why. Later that day both granny and mom explained to me that I shouldn’t have taken those candies. They were left for the dead.
– Oh, never mind! Let the kid eat the sweets if she wants to. There’s nothing to be ashamed of.
– Sure, don’t you worry! – said gran. – You didn’t know about the rules.
I was a bit scared, because I didn’t know I shouldn’t take those candies. When adults allowed me to eat the candy, I took a bite and shared it with mom. When we were leaving, we put a pancake and a small glass of vodka on the grave. That was for great-grandfather.
Walking back home I was asking myself different questions. How can the dead come and eat the food? Do they come when everybody leaves the cemetery? Do they eat only when someone brings food to them? What can happen if nobody visits the grave?
Thinking all that I got scared, but not too much. Just a little bit.
На кладбище (Russian)
Я хорошо запомнила, как первый раз была на кладбище. Пришла туда с родственниками, и мы начали прибираться.
Сначала бабушка дала мне палку и говорит: все в оградке чистить, сгребать старые листья на земле в кучу. Я давай, сидя на корточках, старательно пододвигать палкой все эти листья к себе.
У многих могил, как у нашей, есть оградка, но при этом памятник — железный, а наверху иногда крестик, а иногда значок серп и молот. Серп и молот — это значит СССР.
Я когда чистила, то сначала старалась подальше от могилки, на другом конце площадки огражденной, потому что не знала, как со всем этим обращаться, насколько гроб глубоко закапывают. Но потом я смотрю: бабушка совершенно спокойно там чистит, — и тоже поближе пододвинулась. Стала бурую массу счищать с камней, которыми могилка выложена.
Перед тем, как сюда прийти, мы купили возле кладбища ненастоящие цветы. У меня несколько розочек, красивые — если не трогать, то как живые, и капельки на них, как будто действительно вода. Цветы эти привязали к веткам дерева рядом с оградкой. Мне дедушка помогал, я б сама не дотянулась, хотя деревце было молодое, и листики на нем молодые, только начинают разворачиваться. Наверное, когда они все развернутся, будет красиво.
Потом бабушка начала выкладывать на стол еду. Взрослые стали вспоминать, каким был прадедушка. Все говорили, что он, мол, красивый был, и что с давлением у него было плохо. А когда они начали болтать про всякие там лекарства, я перестала слушать и давай бродить вокруг могилки, мечтать о чем-то своем. Смотрю на могилы и представляю: если бы я была совсем маленькой, как в сказке фея или Дюймовочка, я бы тут по могилке побегала туда-сюда, и на памятник бы запрыгнула, и на перекладине в оградке бы покачалась, и на цветы бы посмотрела, которые тут лежат, и по ним бы попрыгала. И капли на розах бы потрогала, настоящие ли?
Вот так стою я, мечтаю, и как захочу писить.
Но туалета-то поблизости нету, даже дачного. Поэтому мне баба говорит, чтоб я подальше отошла, где никого нет, и за кустиком бы каким-нибудь сходила:
— Только смотри, как бы клещ тебя за попу не цапнул, — и все засмеялись.
Я пописила, встаю, штаны надела и иду туда, где взрослые. Но потом оказалось, что куда-то не туда пришла: легко на кладбище заблудиться. Как будто лабиринт, и я в тупик зашла. Вдруг гляжу – могилка чья-то, памятник, еловая ветка на него свесилась. А на памятнике лежат две конфетки. И обертки такие!
Я обрадовалась: вот чудо-то какое! – одну конфету беру и сразу съела, а вторую в карман кладу. Я подумала, что это может быть волшебство, это феечка принесла специально для меня. И давай выбираться оттуда. Через оградку перешагиваю: она низенькая. Нашла дорожку, и скоро уже опять возле взрослых стою.
К маме подошла, дергаю ее за рукав и конфету протягиваю. Думаю, вот хорошо, мама обрадуется.
Мама обрадовалась, говорит спасибо. Уже хочет развернуть, но вдруг:
— А ты откуда ее взяла?
А я говорю:
— Там вон где-то лежала просто так, я взяла.
Все надо мной стали смеяться. Я сначала не поняла, почему. Потом мне и бабушка, и мама объяснили, что не надо их брать, конфеты эти. Их для умерших оставляют.
— Пусть ребенок съест, раз взял, застыдили девочку.
— Да конечно, съешь, — говорит мне бабушка. — Ты же не знала.
Я немножко испугалась: нельзя же брать, а я вот взяла. Но вроде все взрослые мне заявляют, что это ничего. Так что вторую конфетку мы с мамой напополам съели. А когда уходили, то оставили на могилке блинчик на салфетке и в малюсенький стакан водки налили. Это вроде как прадедушке налили.
Я иду и думаю себе. Это они, умершие, что ли придут, когда никого не будет, и все это съедят? Они едят, только когда им родственники вот так принесут и оставят на могилке? А вот если заброшенная могилка, и никто на нее не приходит?
Если так долго думать, то немножко страшно. Но я, когда мне страшно, стараюсь про это как будто не думать.
A Girl Like Me by Mehak Siddiqui
Where’s your dupatta?
My mother asked.
I was twelve, maybe eleven.
Or ten or thirteen?
In the throes of puberty
When this question
That would forever
First made an appearance
On the turbulent shores
Of my complicated existence.
Is the word I would learn.
To understand my identity.
Pale and blonde.
But not “white,”
But not quite.
But with hair uncovered.
But also Kenyan.
But so much more.
Where’s your dupatta?
Put it around your neck.
Cover your chest.
Don’t stand so tall.
Keep your gaze downcast.
Don’t draw attention to yourself.
You don’t want to give the wrong message.
You’re a girl.
One day, you must marry.
Then, do whatever you want.
Whatever your husband wishes.
Thirteen changed to eighteen
But the rules stayed the same.
And the question.
Where’s your dupatta?
Became more pressing
And I, resistant.
I came across a book once
Called “That thing around your neck.”
And I thought,
It might be about my dupatta
Or its lack thereof.
But no, the book was about love.
Love, love, love.
How I have craved it.
The romantic kind.
Always wondering, does it even exist?
For a girl like me?
Who lives at the intersections
Of so many complications.
Forever explaining my identity.
Always wondering, who will love me?
When I come with all this…
Can we call it “baggage?”
The girl transformed into a woman.
One day, she must marry.
She’ll do whatever she wishes.
Hasn’t she always?
girlhood: (un)defined by Lilia Constan
girlhood — “the period when a person is a girl, and not yet a woman, or the state of being a girl”, according to the cambridge dictionary. apparently, the dictionaries do not elaborate on any specifics other than the time period.
girlhood is dark, light, gentle, aggressive, bland, vibrant, soft, brazing, entangling, liberating, suffocating, refreshing, or any other coming to mind adjective, constantly swaying from side to side in the dichotomy most evident, endlessly fluctuating, unique and universal at the same time. probably the best way to describe it would be “a multi-faceted, ever-changing experience, always unique to a specific person”. yet, we still find common things endured together amidst this fluid concept.
in my eyes, it is a period of identity exploration. finding yourself, then finding your truer authentic self, all while navigating the pressure of societal expectations trying to fit you in a specific category that you are supposed to be in. then the rebellion out of attempts to reject being locked into an identity. with claustrophobia closing in on your very own sense of yourself as a person. causing you to reject the standard feminine and turn to the opposite, possibly ending up borderline misogynistic because you do not wish to be what you’re prescribed to be. realization of not having to be something one-sided and simple comes so much later.
growing up enjoying old media, i wanted to be every male character in the books i read, movies i saw. until i realized there was no place for me in those and i would be treated differently. i was frankenstein’s monster, i was indiana jones, i was richard cypher, i was jekyll, i was hyde, i was the epitome of lovecraftian horror, or po’s lamenting lyrical hero, anybody and anything but a woman growing up. finding female characters that i — for the first time — could actually associate myself with was, no less, liberating and at first shocking, even though all the strong female characters i was coming across in my early teen years for some oh-so-strange reasons were either overly sexualized, or portrayed as villains, or both.
yet a thing most interesting to discover during my teenage years was, that in modern days, you can reclaim all those identities that even ten years ago would be frowned upon in some circles close to you. no, you don’t have to find yourself a knight in shining armor because you are fascinated with them in books. you can become one. yourself. all while being a girl who supposedly would not fit into the archetype by default. we want labels to feel safe. labels want us not, for i have never seen ones truly fitting. girlhood, i think, is about finding the actual authentic “you”, while trying on different facets and navigating the gender norms, sometimes forcefully plunging your way through them.
today you are shelley’s elizabeth, existing to be tender and helping, de jure a subject, de facto an object for others’ needs because it is what you are supposed to be; tomorrow corelli’s lady sybil, done with being morally righteous yet still loathing yourself for not conforming, always compared to another woman who is “right”, for the madonna/whore complex exists and will be applied to you since you only start resembling an older girl. and the day after tomorrow, you’re jo march, going down the long path of embracing both the side you always had in you and the one you are about to learn about by entering the world.
a common thing to face is rejecting something in order to rethink it and reclaim it. it gives autonomy to you as a person. confined no longer by the expectations of others, it is your own identity that will be carved into the world. i think that in the end, girlhood is about learning to be lost in order to claim what is truly yours. by different means available and paths unalike.
Girlhood is a Spectrum: Shells by Lucinda McKnight
there there Juniper (in fall you were my best girl) by Aurora Leigh Blue
Nature bleeds through the seams,
holly berries, yew seeds, dry leaves,
crusty with rust and chubby with poison
a red ritual of dust and death,
an illusion of truce of a time rekindled
I remember you
in the white crooked dress
your chest too slender, your breasts ashamed
the ghost of a living ache scurrying under the floorboards
willing belonging out of blame
the voltage of loneliness pulsing off your veins
and into the neighbors’ houses, their china their cupboards their laughter
making their insides strobe and crackle
a closed-circuit of bric-a-brac madness.
dipped in varnish, shiny, never dying
braces still in place.
the acrylic vapors of longing bleed off my skin
tarnishing the gravity of my grip
making me tipsy with need as I pick invisible lint off the floor
and dream of leaning into the crawl space
lay face down on the earth
flesh in mourning, making room for love and mould
a charity, a lark
trees spinning gold out of bramble and bark,
stretching fire into liquid parchment
miring the pavement with quilted decay.
And then, one day,
the shape of pine needles outlining your body
bone and ligament fiddled into a Betadine-colored mess.
I remember you
the one in the white crooked dress
lopsided, thumbed over, effaced.
The knot on my throat swallowed by rote
undying and unbraced.
Alterations by Alla Barsukova
The lines of my body are soft, all the curves in the right places except one. My stomach, no matter how hard I try to suck it in. On days like today I feel like my body is mocking me, trying to make me look like something I am not, something I really want to be. With child. This is not the first time my body has been faster than me, I seem to spend most of my life catching up with its peculiar transformations.
It started with a huge blood stain when I was eleven. A year before that I decided to stop playing with my Barbie dolls, I wanted to be a grown up so much. Nobody told me it would come with a scare and a sharp pain. The funny thing was, I knew about sex all right. My mum’s Cosmo and Elle informed me well, I even educated some of my less fortunate friends. People also had sex in books which I read plenty. No page had people finding blood on their underwear.
Anyway, here I was looking at my blue knickers in our ugly yellow and pink bathroom. Mum was still home, I rushed over to her, sobbing, my eyes huge from fear. I was already ashamed of the red mark, I didn’t know there were many more to come during my adolescence. My mum, barely in her early thirties, as shocked as I was, handed me a pad and promised to talk to me after school. She assured me I wasn’t ill, her tone said otherwise. We were both so unprepared.
On the way to school I kept pronouncing the weird new word in my head – monthlies, monthlies, monthlies. It seemed to stick to the top of my mouth, just like the pad on my clean knickers. During break I tried to ask my classmates if they had ever had that time of the month yet. I was the first.
A month after that another first – a bra. I didn’t have to beg my mum for it, she was the one bringing me to the shop. My breasts have already reached size 1 by then. I still remember that weird feeling of the straps clinging to my shoulders, they were wide, with a rainbow pattern. The cups felt like a cotton cage on my body. Everyone said that I would soon stop feeling it but I never did.
My hips followed my breasts, they got wider, womanly, child bearing hips, one of my relatives would call them. Soon they were covered by a net of stretch marks. They felt foreign and wrong. Just like the glances I started getting from boys and men. My grown up body kept sending them messages my mind did not agree with. Accepting their attention was easier than explaining myself.
Now I am nearing thirty and my curves keep sending wrong messages. One day I will stop caring, my body will start changing because I will want it to. Because of you, Little one.
I was meant to be a lover by Margaret Murphy
I can see it from a far,
I wonder though,
did it light them up too?
Her contagious smile, her kind eyes.
A cosmic simplicity,
drawing people in.
But they always seem to get it
not quite right.
She carries something.
She doesn’t see it like everyone else.
Let’s be honest,
she never did.
whilst her brother, her friends –
seemingly everyone she knew,
obsessed over lifeless relationships,
She wasn’t bothered,
not in the slightest.
Their girlhood and boyhood was repetitive, predictable.
Their girlhood and boyhood was repetitive, predictable.
Ha! Hers was aLiVe
She wasn’t afraid to love, unconditionally
her grandparents neighbour, her coach, the smell of rain…
the list is exhaustive, her regard for people equal and beautiful.
She sees the beauty in everything, for life is full of sunshine.
Her heart had to grow fast, learn fast.
Exposed early to the truths of life.
But grateful, nonetheless.
Capable of understanding beyond her years,
in a way people l o n g for.
Does she belong to the night’s sky?
Always there to brighten the darkness.
In her notebook, she jots,
no, she engraves those she meets.
Grateful for everyone, not wanting to forget
what made her smile. She smiling.
Her energy introduces her before she speaks.
She loves big, you never have to wonder.
But oh she wonders.
She wondered, on the blank page of her notebook:
‘Sex is all around us, but intimacy is not. Intimacy seems rare these days’.
Perhaps much hasn’t changed since her girlhood. But it did, once.
They drank tea on the balcony until the sun said good morning.
The stars shone brighter that night. The connection radiated into the evening sky.
And time, you ask. Time hadn’t been invented; for the two were in the past, the present and the future.
It was so natural. This night,
and forever onwards, when she relays this memory,
her smile different.
He got it more than right. And she knew.
He helped her by being himself.
Thank you for being you.
You see, she didn’t want sex. She never has.
She wanted intimacy.
She sees beyond looks, drawn in by the soul connection.
She always happens to meet people, that when together everything feels right.
More than right,
when together she feels completely at home.
She knows she has her people.
Her shift from girlhood allowed her to see,
and acknowledge the eternal gratitude she carries for all those around her.
A truly wonderful experience to simultaneously see the beam of warmth
in one another’s eye when meeting up.
To feel the love. Mind embracing mind, heart and heart.
Friendship is a gift. Platonically powerful.
Oh she is lucky.
Okay, she doesn’t crave sex.
But, she craves life,
her soul touched, warmly, by those around her.
She wrote about him.
She sees beyond looks, she sees you, she wants to know you.
Kiss by Viktoria Matrosova
(TW: Harassment, Child abuse)
A wintry day as if made of steel. My face peeks out between the collar and the beanie: it doesn’t feel the wind, doesn’t reflect the sunlight off the snow. It captures moments of three o’clock in the afternoon when a little more, just a bit, and the light will change. It will get colder, and my nose will turn slightly red. Streetlights and store lights will illuminate the road, like a distant beacon, a window in a high-rise building will flicker.
When I was little, especially during the cold and dark times of the day, I loved to put as many books as possible from the library into my backpack. As I walked a few bus stops from home, chilling my cheeks, I imagined myself as a book courier. Delivering books to people: they had chosen these specifically for winter evening reading under the lamp. And the snowy road becomes a path to cozy worlds.
Everything around was gray, with occasional glimmers of palish azure.
“Excuse me, miss, have you seen a dog around here?” called out a breathless man. He bent over, placing his knees under his arms to catch his breath.
“No, sorry, she probably ran past me,” a sad smile appeared on my face as I shook my head.
“Ah, unleashed her, turned away, and off she went. Now I’m running around looking, and no one has seen her…” The man waved his hands and raised them above his head, as if he wasn’t wearing a puffy jacket and a couple of extra layers of clothes. “She’s still just a pup, though she thinks she’s all grown up.”
“Try searching in the yards. Maybe she hid there. Or go back to where you lost her; she might run back to you.”
“Oh, you’re quite the expert! Do you have a pet too?”
“No, I’m on my own.”
“Alright, perhaps it’s worth to going back and waiting there…” he looked around, adjusted his hat, and raised his eyes to the library sign. I took a few steps forward, skirting around him.
“Do you often visit this library? I can see you’re carrying a lot on your back,” the snow crunched behind me. I wondered how far my keys were.
“Every now and then,” I shrugged and buried my face in the furry collar.
I continued walking forward, focused on the upcoming bus stop — the first checkpoint on the imaginary courier’s map.
“I have a large library at my home. It came to me as an inheritance, and I continue to add to it. I dream of showing it to my children someday.”
He continued walking beside me. I couldn’t smell the snowy street, the evening cold, mine or his cologne. As if no one was around.
“I think so too,” he paused, as if to appreciate the world once more. “I can see, you read a lot with those clever eyes.”
We reached the checkpoint. I turned to say goodbye to my mysterious stranger.
“Excuse me,” I glanced at him. He spoke calmly, adjusting his gloves, compressing the emptiness between his fingers. His voice and intonations, for some reason, reminded me of one of the school PE teachers.
“May I kiss you, please? Just on the cheek. I’ll do it gingerly. You’re very beautiful.”
He paused and I turned halfway. Like a mysterious prince from a tale, like a true gentleman who asks first. Perhaps, that’s what Men do. And from this question, the heart might freeze, the pulsation of veins may intensify, and for some reason, the thighs go numb. A breakdown of emotions and conclusions; I didn’t expect this.
“Well, yes… please.”
His bristle stung my cheek. A wet kiss. I leaned slightly in the direction where the tiny fur fibers of the collar had also stung me.
“Can we do it once again?”
“I’m sorry, but I need to go in there. Business matters,” I pointed at the door.
Almost all of the small windows in the old telegraph agency were occupied. It was hot and stuffy. I wanted to stand behind someone, but no one paid attention to me.
I went out. He was gone. I looked around — it was getting dark, the hour of winter twilight was setting in. I saw him around the corner and ran towards home.
I was thirteen, with books in my backpack, the weight of which I no longer felt.
Spectrum of the Ocean by Scarlett Brìgh
I am the ocean,
Serene yet fierce.
I’m concealed, I’m cosmic,
My waves can sweep you off your feet,
you can drown your worries into me.
I’m abyssal, I’m infinite,
I can embrace you like no other,
I know no limits of love.
I can caress you with my calm,
I can enfold you in my warmth.
I’m honest, I’m daring,
I’m a reflection of what you show me.
If you choose to endure my brutality,
See beyond the mirror of illusion,
Dive into me, I’ll show you an unreal reality,
For, I hold a life within me.
I’m unpredictable, I petrify,
But if you choose to trust my evolution,
Survive the hue and cry,
I’ll show you eternal beauty of creation,
The birth of a new life.
I’m all about love and peace,
But don’t you dare mess with me,
If you try to shake my roots,
My vulnerability, you misuse,
You’ll see the feminine rage,
A girl with passion and agony,
And the demons she slays,
A novel hell shall hail.
Reflection at 17 by Whitney Hamilton
The Sublime by Aria Nichole
My spirit doesn’t rest.
I beg for her to stop.
To take a break.
But she pushes on in front of me.
Teasing, dancing just beyond my finger tips.
Being one with my spirit, I miss it.
I watch her walk beside me,
A shadow of myself, distant,
Perfect in the ways I wish to be:
Softer, prettier, happier.
She twirls and spins when the breeze is lofty,
Hair swirling, curls bouncing, dress flapping.
She giggles with the sound of a million flapping birds.
Crickets swoon over her moon shaped eyes.
Heart shaped lily pads and shiny, falling stars
Dazzle the world when my spirit sings,
The moon sighs at her when she waves goodnight.
She hums as she goes along,
Stopping to smell flowers and smile at strangers.
She perches on a tree branch,
Her hand holding a sweet rosy bird.
Together they sing and mend flower elaborate crowns,
Fit for fairytale storybook princesses
Who dream of hot pastries and warm bubble baths.
Who run from big bad wolves who destroy straw houses.
The world is a better place with my spirit.
But she doesn’t cling to me.
I chase after her,
Picking up the pieces she leaves for me,
Tumbling behind her
Broken, sad, vacant.
Oh, to be her.
To dance, sing, mend.
To smile, parade, laugh,
To exist in the sweet moments of bliss just once.
why this is crucial for me in three acts (English) by Ruth Grinko
G: how did it go?
A: i want to curl up in a corner and moan like a dying swan
G: swan is good
A: dead swan — not so much
G: well, spill it
A: long story short, they didn’t take me
A: i went on stage, saw smirks from our classmates, and forgot the words
A: i mooed the whole song like a cow
G: bummer. sorry i couldn’t stay
A: it’s fine
A: actually, it’s good you didn’t witness THAT
G: cheer up. let’s go swimming at the quarry
A: i’m fat and ugly
G: oh god, here we go
G: u r the most beautiful after Katja, u know
G: let’s go, and invite Katja too
A: wow, u really love her; u even wrote her name with a capital letter
G: come oooon
A: r u trying to cheer me up or just hang out with Katja?
A: got it.
A: invite her yourself
G: come oooon, r u my friend or a chicken?
A: i’m a swan
G: perfect, then let’s swim. text her; i’ll be at your place in 15 min
G was last online five minutes ago.
A: watching hachiko and crying
G: ah, i cried too
A: really? wow
A: thanks for sharing. thought cool boys don’t cry
G: can u check my english essay?
A: sure, anything to distract myself
A: why do you mock “live” in the text? it doesn’t have these weird collocations
G: thx darling
G: speaking about weird
G: how do u like the shirt?
User G sent a photo.
A: nice! is it new?
G: yeah, bought it today with the money from handing out flyers
G: is it good?
A: then it’s doubly good
A: really like it! gray-beige would suit you
A: do you have a photo wearing it?
G: no, u’ll see tomorrow
A: i’ll mark this day on the calendar! the day he wore a shirt for the first time!!!
G: what’s better, tucked in or untucked?
A: how would i know?
G: whatever’s fashionable now, idk
G: ask Katja
A: you know, you can decide whether to tuck the shirt into your pants or not without asking katja
G: btw, the quarry is frozen; we can go ice skating
A: NOW?? at night?????
G: no, tomorrow
G: or on the weekend
A: well, i don’t know
G: what’s wrong now?
A: i don’t have skates
A: and don’t know how to skate
G: they rent skates there, and i’ll teach u to skate
A: yeah, i know you. if we go with the others and katja, you’ll be gone
G: let’s go just the two of us first, and next time we’ll invite the others
A: you don’t have to make sacrifices
G: but we’re friends, right?
G: then tomorrow after school?
G: btw, how did u like hachiko?
A: sad, couldn’t finish it
A: i’m almost ready for figure skating competitions now))))
A: i don’t know why i’m writing here when you’ll never read it again. maybe i want to say that you’re my best and only friend
A: i never told you, and it seemed clear, but now
A: last night, i dreamt i was cutting shapes from my heart: a circle, a triangle, and for some reason, a swan
A: today was the funeral. god, the worst day of my life. although now all days have merged into one. you would ask me about katja, but idk what to tell you. probably not good. i couldn’t look at her, sorry
A: went to ur mom; she can barely speak — didn’t know u could load up on sedatives to that extent. i promise to visit her more often; she recalls many funny things about u. took ur shirt as a keepsake. u don’t mind, right?
A: u r my personal twitter now
A: everyone skates at the quarry but i don’t want to. literally everything reminds me of u, from the laces to the pompom on ur hat, and ur skates. i don’t really understand why leave the house, tbh
A: btw, did u know that if you cry for many days in a row, the tears are not salty anymore?
A: i miss u
A: we haven’t seen each other for a year and one day
A: u think i’ll run out of words? fuck u, read my letters forever
почему это важно для меня в трёх действиях (Russian)
Г: привет, как прошло?
А: хочу забиться в угол и стонать оттуда умирающим лебедем
Г: лебедь — хорошо
А: дохлый лебедь — не очень
Г: ну расскажи
А: короче не взяли меня
А: вышла на сцену, увидела ухмылки наших одноклассничков и слова забыла
А: всю песню мычала, как корова
Г: отстой. сорри, что не смог остаться
А: да норм всё
А: даже хорошо, что ты не видел ЭТОГО
Г: хорош грустить
Г: го на карьер купаться
А: я толстая и страшная
Г: о господи, началось
Г: и Катю позови
А: хренасе у тебя любовь, ты аж с большой буквы написал
Г: ну плиз
А: ты хочешь меня подбодрить или с катей потусить?
А: сам зови её
Г: ну пожалуйста
Г: ты мне друг или петух
А: я лебедь
Г: отлично, тогда плывём. пиши ей, я через 15 мин у твоего дома
Г. был(а) в сети пять минут назад.
А: смотрю хатико и рыдаю
Г: а, ясно. тоже плакал
А: реально? прикол
А: спасибо, что поделился
Г: проверишь эссе по английскому?
А: давай, отвлекусь хоть
А: норм, только почему над live в тексте издеваешься? совершенно нормальный правильный глагол
А: тебе ворд обподчёркивался
Г: спасибо, дорогая)
Г: можно странный вопрос?
Г: как тебе рубашка?
Пользователь Г. отправил фото.
А: оооооо, класс! новая?
Г: ага, сегодня купил
Г: с денег за раздачу листовок)
Г: правда норм?
А: тогда вдвойне класс
А: правда нравится. я думаю, тебе пойдёт серо-бежевый
А: а на тебе фотка есть?
Г: не) завтра в ней приду
А: отмечу этот день в календаре! он впервые надел рубашку!!!!
Г: как лучше, когда рубашка заправлена или на выпуск?
А: а я-то откуда знаю
Г: ну как сейчас модно, я не знаю
Г: спроси у Кати
А: ты сам можешь решать, носить заправленную или не заправленную в брюки рубашку
А: без всяких кать
Г: кстати, карьер замёрз, можно на коньках пойти кататься
А: сейчас?? ночью??????
Г: не, ну завтра
Г: или на выходных там
А: ну не знаю
Г: что опять не так?
А: у меня коньков нет
А: и кататься не умею
Г: коньки там напрокат дают
Г: а кататься я тебя научу
А: да знаю я тебя, если пойдём с ребятами и Катей, то всё, тебя нет
Г: можем сначала вдвоём сходить, а в следующий раз остальных позовём)
А: вот это жертвы
Г: ну мы же друзья)
Г: ну тогда завтра после школы?
Г: как тебе хатико, кстати?
А: грустно, не смогла досмотреть
А: теперь я почти готова к соревнованиям по фигурному катанию))))
А: я не знаю, зачем пишу сюда, если ты больше никогда не прочитаешь. может, я хочу сказать, что ты мой лучший и единственный друг
А: я тебе никогда не говорила, да и вроде понятно было, а сейчас
А: ночью приснилось, что из моего сердца вырезают фигурки: кружок, треугольник и лебедя почему-то
А: сегодня были похороны, господи, худший день в моей жизни. хотя щас все дни в один слились. ты бы спросил меня, как там катя, но я хз, что тебе ответить. плохо, наверно. у меня не было сил смотреть на неё, прости
А: мне тебя не хватает
А: ходила к твоей маме, она еле говорит — не знала, что можно накачаться успокоительными до такой степени. обещаю ходить к ней почаще, она много смешного о тебе вспоминает. забрала себе рубашку на память. ты не против?
А: ты мне теперь вместо твиттера
А: у всех сейчас главное развлечение — кататься на коньках на карьере, но я не хочу. и так всё о тебе напоминает от шнурков до помпона на шапке, а ещё коньки. вообще я теперь не особо понимаю, зачем выходить из дома, если честно
А: кстати, ты знал, что если плакать много дней подряд, то слёзы перестанут просаливаться?
А: я скучаю по тебе
А: мы не виделись год и один день
А: думаешь, у меня слова закончатся? хрен тебе, читай мои письма вечно
Thanks to Glafira Soldatova for creating this project and all her work putting this show together.
Thank you to everyone who submitted to this call for contributions. We look forward to having more exhibitions like this in the future.