I Was A Nineties Girl
by S. J. Stephens
I wanted to be Madonna with her stacked jelly bracelets and forbidden sexuality a style of every nineties girl’s dream and every boy’s fantasy she was more than ambition mocking virginity and scoffing the doctrine of her youth daring to defy the laws of man and church In my room singing La Isla Bonita with little idea of its meaning A young girl with eyes like the desert the music moved through my body sang to my innocence at the first mention of wild dreams and tropical storms gathering I was touched beneath my skin through my bones into the marrow where all secrets are held and wait
It was a time of designer Guess jeans and peg rolled pants high ponytails and that guy who believed I was on fire for the lord and I was burning in that fire deeply immersed in the word but also submerged in Bel Biv Devoe Do Me Baby and Color me Bad I Wanna Sex You Up Boys to Men singing I’ll Make Love To You
My first kiss, a dead thing flopping on wet sand before love came with a second kiss and his hand covering my breast kneading my flesh a deafening music tuned to perfection but boys make lousy lovers on driveways with clumsy attempts at seduction even when the stars are clear warm air cooled by the hour submerged in feeling under a spell that resonates through decades of good lovers and bad lovers beneath those first moments of bliss when rational thought lost to the hum of lust I want that magic in every kiss in every touch of lips and in my lover’s words
We were pretty girls with blue eyeshadow and black mascara pink cheeks and frosted pink lips teased hair three inches high and hairspray stuck to the bathroom floor we were girls on the verge before cell phones and computers a dark craze emerged Madonna posed naked on the street pushing the limits of virtue beyond what my experience could beat out in time to the righteous music playing in the background a soundtrack to the nineties
After rock n roll Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Madeleine Albright gave way to the commercialization of my body tricked into objectifying my sexuality my body until we all women bleed openly reduced to sexuality stripped of power we slit our own wrists in unwitted suicide
I fear that legacy as I am the nineties girl living proof that progress isn’t always progress my misspent regrets are worthless in the currency of living pennies on the dollar in the exchange of memories at today’s rate I’ll keep my memories because I know this wild ride isn’t new every generation lives through decades of change and at least I know while you exploit my girlhood
I am an unapologetic bad ass feminist bitch.
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S.J. Stephens lives and writes in the coastal town of Wilmington, North Carolina. She is an MFA candidate for poetry at the University of North Carolina, Wilmington. In addition to publishing in journals such as The Licking River Review and Sugared Water, she has recently published a chapbook, Where All the Birds Are Dancing, with Finishing Line Press.