By Ella Hillström

Voluntarily she grasped the needle, 

proclaiming she couldn’t sew, as she stitched. 

She was five the first time. 


I cannot sing, she said,

and stitched the words across her leg.


I am not beautiful, she said,

this time only twelve.

Every time, she pushed the needle further, 

bursting fair, protective skin.


I cannot paint, she said, 

as she stared at her portrait.


I cannot write, she said, after writing

words that made her mother cry. 


Stitches now covered her body,

the needle quivering in her palm.

I cannot unstitch, she said.