Scout & Birdie
Scout & Birdie

Author’s Note:

As I’ve progressed into adulthood, I’ve found that thoughts about my body have taken up a greater proportion of time than ever before. What to feed it, how to clothe it, how others perceive it, and many more concerns have arisen, all with the ongoing subtext of aging. This is my peak, I’ve thought to myself on many occasions. Or, I’ll never look as good in that dress again.

These thoughts are usually quickly followed by self-reprimands. You’re a feminist, I’d say to myself. You know that cute clothes and makeup are only for them, not for you. A six-pack is just another type of unnecessary self-accoutrement. Be kind to yourself.

Writing has helped me to gain perspective, and also distance, on these questions of body and role. Specifically, I’ve begun looking at found text in a wholly new way, to tease out the underlying messages about femininity. The following erasure poems represent an attempt to redefine the text and challenge portrayals of female bodies and roles.


The Secret


Bright sweep of girls
brought misery.
The very minims had stiffened
and she had worked them

and resented.
She had a nice firm mass
and forgotten fear.
She fumbled

until the thumping
began again.
She had to reproduce

the secret.
Twice she succeeded and
once laughed.


On Dread


The convulsive force of
Arms, her own dreadful.

Eager and dumb and remorseful
She had stood, face

To face sinking,
Before each releasing paroxysm.

There would be breakfast, cold;
Exhaustion, an end;
Her father.


What He Wanted


Very good, she heard him say.
Select, she heard,
Daughters of gentleman.

Her lonely
Pilgrimage heart-sinking;
Their dismay, her fear.

Acceptance in insisting
and carrying her,
Poor dear.

He always wanted
Her to be the same.


Her Performance


A radiance for a moment.
The gravity opened
on her ribbon-knotted dress.

Prepared for the difference
Between the performance
of these girls and nearly all.

Firmly-poised, bare
with absence.


Source Text:

Richardson, Dorothy. (2007, October 27) “Pointed Roofs: Pilgrimage, Volume 1,” Project Gutenberg EBook #3019. Retrieved from Project Gutenberg.


About the author...

Emily Madapusi Pera is a writer based in Chicago and Providence, RI. She has been previously published by Scout & Birdie and is excited to appear in its pages again. Emily has also been featured by Back to Print, Wasted Pages Anthology and Sliced Bread. She'd like to dedicate these erasure poems to Dorothy Richardson, a feminist writer who has provided much inspiration.

Want to read more of Emily's work?

Check out her Three Poems from our First Impressions issue and her piece, Café Mysteries from our Messy issue!