Exeter College (Exeter, Great Britain)
The girl in the mirror stares back at me;
Cold eyes, cold skin, cold heart.
She twists her hair tight into a bun;
My eyes prick as my scalp is pulled;
Hers are clear. Always clear.
Each wayward curl and split end
Become uniform under her deft fingers,
She smooths her skirt, straightens my collar,
My secret lies behind the mirror, tucked into the space
Between white paint and metal frame.
I take over
And release my treasure from its prison.
I allow myself one moment to pause and observe-
A silver dove frozen in flight,
Caught by the very metal it is moulded from,
Struggling to free itself from the silver chain
Looped over my fingers.
She does not know, she cannot know,
Of this secret.
I lower the pendant around my neck like a noose,
Then let my dove fall over my heart.
I release my hold.
She takes over in one swift movement.
I created her long ago,
Gave everything I had to her;
My life, my individuality, my freedom-
All in the name of survival.
I forged her in icy steel,
A shield to protect me,
A sword to defend.
Time passed and I lost the key,
Forgot how to take control of my own body.
She’s been in charge ever since.
She leads me out,
Out into a world of uniformity, conformity, a prisoner
In my own city.
I feel the weight of my dove against my heart,
Giving me hope.
For I promise, dove of silver,
One day I will escape her.
I promise, dove of silver,
One day I will have my freedom.
Lilith Foster-Collins is a first year student studying at Exeter College who enjoys reading and writing fiction and poetry in her spare time.