‘Between all of them they raise, little by little, a wall that will keep out the thing
that lies waiting for the tiniest crack of silence to steal through.’

—Rosario Castellanos

First, a wall that contracts me out of my unfurled state. Next, one
that divides me from my own kin. It is the same wall I am sitting on
when Green aged nine is pulled from the school yard for yelling dicks
and fannies are what make babies
. I thought I could fly I said when asked
why I’d hurled myself forward, arms outspread and eyes closed tight
to the world. There are the wall boys who want in under your bra
with their cold fingers and the wall girls who will teach you how to
leave a bite. There is the wall that goes up inside you the first time
you’re called a slut. There is the wall of grinning wet-lipped farmers
that gathers around the teenage girls at the local beauty pageant show
as you in a borrowed dress are herded into the ring. Writer: wrong
answer and you lose to the sergeant’s daughter. It should have been you
the barman sighs as he swipes the taps with a dirty cloth. It could
have been me but instead I am scored out of ten and told to try again
next year. I am sixteen by the time a fire in my chest begins to burn
from the inside out. I am seventeen when I learn how to stave myself.
I am eighteen the summer I join my brothers in the building trade,
laying concrete, smoothing lines of dark, wet cement. I am standing
on the site early one morning with the hot sun in my eyes and a brick
in my hand when a man dares to ask me: what do you know about walls?