Black Girls in Castles by Beatrice Winifred Iker

Illustration by Mimi Mutesa @mimimutesa

when I was a child I went to the grocery store in search of 


and while I never found any

I did find 


when I was a teenager, a teacher warned me


widened eyes

fisted hands

a bitter heart

he warned me, I was too soft for this world

elaborate, he did not 

but I know now

just as I did then

girls that look like me train as toddlers in the art of laying concrete

by the age of seven, we have built 

whole castles

surrounding our bodies

surrounding our minds

my teacher — I believe

was concerned because despite arduous training

I never stayed in my castle

I’ve always had


sprinting away from health/safety 

I lovingly brought this softness with me

everywhere I went

— grocery stores included

wanting very much to attract

someone, someones

who were soft

like me

instead, though

I found many people living in castles

and all they want 

is to live anywhere 

but in a castle


please call me health

please call me soft

please call me safe

Beatrice’s work will appear in the upcoming DEATH IN THE MOUTH horror anthology and in upcoming issues of FIYAH Magazine, Fantasy Magazine, and Air and Nothingness Press. 

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