“I can see your brush strokes,”
he harumphed
this man who wanted me to pay
his people to repaint what I’d just finished painting.

More and more
I am showing my brush strokes.
And when I’m using metallic paint,
the strokes will show.

Some people don’t like seeing the strokes.
Some people find the visible strokes
offensive or uncomfortable,
preferring an all-concealing, even coating.

Shoot, sometimes I don’t even like the strokes.
When I was sweet,
when I was a nice girl,
when I blended in
and caused no trouble
and agreed appropriately
and stroked and cajoled
and said only things I knew would be
accepted – occasionally even lauded,
when I couldn’t even tell you what I
wanted or needed or was even all about,
well, truth be known: that was easier for me, too.
I knew the rules,
the parameters.
I know how to play that game
and it became so second nature to me
that I didn’t have to think about it.

It was,
in what now seems
a warped sort of way,


But let me be clear:
The days when I remake myself
into an image you find pleasing
is over.
If you find my words offensive,
if you don’t agree with me,
if you don’t like seeing
brush strokes,
there’s a solution that’s easy, simple:
Don’t read.
Don’t look.
Don’t listen.

Move on.

Instead of contacting me
and asking that I remove a post,
instead of contacting her
and demanding that she take down her words,
Stroll another lane of the internet.


I spent a lifetime
contorting myself into images
they would find pleasing.
Then I spent another lifetime,
telling my daughter to do the very same thing.
Because I wanted her to be safe.

And now I know:
Safety is not found in becoming
somebody other than who you are.


As for those brush strokes . . .

It is no longer okay
to say
“This offends me, so I want you to remove it.”
It is, however, perfectly okay to say
“This offends me, so I will
read elsewhere.”

It’s easy, once you get the hang of it:
Don’t like a particular stage show?
Don’t buy a ticket.

Don’t like a certain kind of music?
Change the dial.

Don’t like a particular television show?
Watch something else.

Just so you know.