drowning

should my value depend
only on my strength
strong woman with her
head high and arms
crossed stare down the
world and make it pay
by never getting the grace
to stumble or the slack
to show your sores
rubbed raw under
bandages you have to
apply new each day
lest they tell you
you’re not fit to stand
in the world with a
weakness like that
they say they love
a strong woman
i think they just
like the idea of a girl
who can take on gallons
more water than they do
and won’t complain
she’s drowning.

Emily Gustafson is a graduate of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota, and has a dual degree in English and Media & Cultural Studies with a minor in Hispanic Studies. She is also an actor, playwright, and nonprofit arts professional living and working in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

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