I’ve been stuck inside a cage of my own making,
Nails scraping the stone walls
Once in pursuit of freedom
Now just to mark days gone by

I was desperate, staring through the steel bars,
Waiting for a kind soul to come,
Key in hand,
To let me loose

Gold, silver, orange with rust
None fit
Finally, I stopped looking out,
And started looking in

My fingers,
Bloodied and numb
My bones and body and bruises
What else did I have?

The scratches,
White and raw,
Seemed to cover my skull
Before I finally broke the lock

There was no key after all


Artist Statement: This poem is about how the strict definitions of gender- especially the gender binary and societal expectations of femininity- can trap people who don’t conform, and how ultimately it is up to us as individuals to define our own genders and identities rather than trying to be boxed in or set free by others’ perceptions or expectations.

Bio: Jenny Trouern-Trend is a junior at Simsbury High School, where she is active in the Women’s Empowerment club and the Gender-Sexuality Alliance. Outside of school, Jenny spends her time writing, playing guitar, drawing, and learning about social justice and politics. She enjoys writing prose and poetry, and hopes to one day become a writer or filmmaker and use art to create awareness of important social issues and promote diversity.

Cover Photo by Jeffrey Czum from Pexels