-Lisa Kendrick, Norfolk, VA

My four year old daughters
run around naked for hours,
unashamed of their bodies,
devoid of sexuality,
creatures of nature
who are at ease in their skin
because clothing traps them.

It is only us girls
and I cannot bring myself
to curb their natural inclinations,
I cannot bring myself to shame them
because once they put on clothing
and don the expectations of society
there will be no turning back.

My girls will never know again
what it is like to feel no shame,
they will never know again
what it is like to walk naked without fear,
they will never feel again the air
against their skin and smile.

Once I teach them they must cover up
there will be no coming back so
I listen to their innocent play and smile
picturing their lithe bodies,
human bodies that are perfect works of art,
knowing that one day soon
I must shut down their innocence,
that I must bathe them in modesty
and teach them people in society
will view their skins as dangerous,
that they must protect themselves
by covering up every inch of flesh deemed offensive.

I must inadvertently murder their self-confidence
by making them cower beneath strips of cloth,
and in only a couple of years, my daughters
will view the human form with trepidation,
they will view the prospect of nakedness with mortification,
they will look down at their magnificent bodies
and instead of seeing artistry
will see only a kaleidoscope of flaws.

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