Listen, the girls swallowed by whales are the ones that grow up lucky.
Listen, no one will warn you about the little boys with the magpie eyes and the fists swinging splinters of glass. No one will warn you that their smiles are sweeter than their words are sweeter than their souls are sweeter than their intentions. No one will warn you of the sheer weight of the world.
Listen, sometimes girls are fragile. Sometimes girls are frothy. Sometimes girls let boys nuzzle "I love you"s into their necks and sometimes girls drink the wine of believing them.
Listen, sometimes the boys really are sweet, and little girls' tart puckered mouths can't taste the difference.
Listen, writers are the ones that drip fishhooks down their throats to coax out their hearts. Writers are the ones who fling those heart-hooks into the sea even if they have a message but not a bottle. Listen, sometimes fish swallow them. Some of those fish sink to the bottom of the ocean with the weight of the world in those hearts – those Plath hearts, those Hemingway hearts – and some of them grow feathers.
Listen, I can tell you to try to grow a feather-heart but I'm forgetting that one day, most days, you will not be a girl with feathers. Most days you will understand the weeping of water and whales. You will try and fail to shed your heavy bones and you will try to forget the whale's mournful song and your heart will be too weighted to even imagine the lightness of seafoam.
Listen, you can unwrap your heart from the blackbird's feathers or you can unravel the whale-song from your throat but Pangaea will never fit itself back together. You can't steal back your fishhook and swallow your heart again.
Listen, though: you might not have a seafoam smile or a fishhook with a feathered heart but you can throw yourself into the ocean after it. You can chase that weighted heart to the bottom of the sea, you can wring every ounce of song from it, you can sing your pain into poetry and shame that un-sweet boy like he wouldn't believe.
Listen, the girls with the heavy hearts will drink the wine and believe the sweet nothings and drip fishhooks down their throats to coax out a heart with the weight of the Pacific. Listen, the girls with the heavy hearts are the ones who dive in after them.
Listen, the heart will sink and the girl will sink and a whale will swallow them both because he hears the whale-song pouring from her eyes.
And listen, that whale will grow feathers.