Zara Allen


Compliance Will Not Be Rewarded - Poem by Zara Allen

Heard the words be a good girl
7650 times before age seven
They opened doors
Adjusted the incline of the climbing frame for PE
Set the metronome to a gentle click clack
Never once perspired in 4 years of lessons
Played nicely, outcome achieved.
Always provided with soft cushion comforters,
for skinned knees and broken hearts
Rolled out the red carpet
Which inevitably faded
in tone and texture
to a bristle doormat
Earlier on, the curriculum was mostly about sharing,
Demonstrated by waiting your turn and keeping quiet

Solemn singing was encouraged,
Providing it was on time and in tune
Mother said never leave home without lipstick
She painted her toenails, red, ritually
Even that time they broke her back

Push our daughters from behind onto the gravel
Never hold them when simpering, only brave
Teach her to push through doors first, to take without thinking
How to clear corners like a commando
Not how to enter buildings alluringly
How to construct, deconstruct, scale and storm them

Her makeup, warpaint, if present
Her each word, intelligent, feral, fierce
If the quiet type, no loss of face
As long as she is quietly defiant, clever, quick
Providing she is never ever “good.”

Topic(s) of this poem: gender


Poet's Notes about The Poem

Dedicated to my mother, who always told me to get up when I was always being pushed down.

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, March 11, 2015



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