Girls present differently by Jo Waterworth

You wonder that she won’t swim. She swims for her life every day.

You people with gills who breathe social water as if born to it,

which you are,

cannot conceive the struggles of air breathers to survive in your midst. Always

struggling at the back of a school, choosing to be unnoticed,

unnoticeable, you would not notice when she leaves the group

for necessary breaths of air. It holds her back. She is vulnerable to sharks,

must trust any who swims by her side for a while. Always the fear

of drowning. Of getting things wrong. She swims so often in fear

it is her element, she knows no other. When will they realize she is no fish-person?

She leaves the group for necessary breaths of air, is not

‘one of us’, is different, a loner, is vulnerable to sharks.

Until she has survived so many years she becomes a trail-blazer,

an inspiration, doing in her fear what others fear to do.

She has learned to swim so well, through constant application

of fear and desiring to stay alive, that you no longer notice

her oddities as noteworthy, only her courage in venturing to the surface

so often. You have no idea of her pain. And when she won’t swim,

citing the sting of chlorine, the noise, the saturated air,

you wonder at it. So treasure her. She will leave the water,

drive evolution, become the future. Your survival may depend on her.