Creative Spotlight: “To All the Men Who’ve Made Me Hate Them” by Ilan Friedland

This week, the Miscellany brings you a poem by Ilan Friedland (’21)! Hailing from South Bend, IN, Ilan is interested in creative writing and American Studies, enjoys Milan Kundera, and is currently churning out verse in Greg Hewett’s Poetry Workshop. Thanks for sharing your work with us, Ilan!

To All the Men Who’ve Made Me Hate Them

I used to sit in my room and count the hours for my princess in drag. Waiting
for you—chipped nail polish tucked under black socks, inversion hidden
between my legs. I was waiting for you, for them, and I never knew it, not until

now. Hours are tricky, aren’t they? You never think how they align and
overlap, one over the other, the other over one, refracting light. Creating
parallels where there were none, evaporating as smoke curls into

branch, sky melts into sea. At every hour of every day I longed to be
touched. My skin went brittle, cracked in cold. I sat in my room and wept
with my sister’s dolls, dreaming, waiting for the men in trench coats to take me

to the place for good little girls. I wish I could write like Will could. I wish I could
make my pain sound as pretty and clean. I wish I had written about how I
never came out to my friends—how I had simply whispered it hot into the world

and hoped it would take hold, leaned over Miranda’s shoulder and
said tell them, tell them just so I won’t have to myself and—five years later I am
drunk, again, and my phone, again, vibrates, again, and I text because maybe

the only language I know is pixels and I no longer know how to even speak
in that tongue, my fingers cramp and my brain slows down, I need a cigarette
but perhaps I only speak in dashes and dots, now this, this too, I forget—  

And all I ever wanted was for my princess with the high cheekbones and thick mouth
to come repaint my toes, add the second layer, don’t forget the top coat! To just
kiss me on the mouth and tell me I was safe, to stop the hours from ticking down

all the way. But that was for the other girls, not me. I was left with just a
prince in sandals who looked through my window and said if only I could see the black
socks and if you could just put down the dolls for a moment, its dinner and I’m hungry

and if for now, just now, could you maybe cut your hair, like his, do you see? What else.

To all the men who made me hate myself: I didn’t know it
at eight but I do now, I know now, I remember how to align
the hours. Things go out of focus, but I blink and remember:

Oh right. I’m waiting. Waiting for you.

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