By Alannah Taylor

Their package arrived two weeks early,
on a hot summer night choked with dusty air.
The delivery was little less than an act of heroism.
The front page of their welcome pack said,
‘Our rules are simple. Be kind,
and minimise harm. Be respectful,
and cultivate good.’ But the small print delved
into a tightening measure of specifics.
‘We require from you a certain uniform,
certain manners of speech and behaviour.
You can only progress up to a
a certain…
certain point’
It said
‘we would like you
to paint your face, and
take in less than your processes require,
speak softly,
fold yourself up when you pass others.
Stay inside, cut bits off, stitch bits on,
and never love without
legal approval’.
It said
‘Do not impose yourself uninvited,
stay away from the tops of our buildings. Keep
everything clean, take care of everyone else,
but hide your skin.
It is your job to be pretty-
we will tell you if you mess it up’.

Two years later
A second package arrived at the same address,
And its leaflet read,
‘Be whoever you want, as crudely as possible,
but don’t you dare cry like your sister.’