The Strongest Girl in the World

“So. How do you trim ya pubes?”
She was sparkling, I was mumbling, stopped thick
as I realised that this boy I picked had told,
told them all, in this shocked hard heart-beat teenage lunch –
“I dunno,” I said. “I don’t do much.”
“Still,” she smiled. “You wanna give ‘em a bit of a trim.”
(And my throat sealed up as the walls roared in.)

When I was four I had a hero.
She was the
PIPPI LONGSTOCKING, vaulting the gable-pole,
long brown legs
like a wheeling shot of hot kinetic energy she
hurled policemen up through the sky, and with a
bright “So long!” she
flung the bullies face down in the shrubbery.
Four years old, she drove me wild – I went crazy,
jumping up and down in front of the TV: Pippi! Who,
with a running jump sailed over the cliff –
plunked down, without a scratch –
because she couldn’t conceive she’d be hurt
had not once launched
a chastened trajectory.

And it was Pippi
who moved in me then, worlds later
in the teenage dark
strangely detached and half-afraid
but in the centre
of that cool, still calm SHE stirred: a flame.
I was virgin, fearless, hairy like a little wolf
My innocence didn’t pull me back but
pushed me, moved
not by affection, or
by attraction, but:

because I was brave.

I think of little girls. I wonder who they’re watching.
My little cousin, she loves
MERIDA: who rips off the hood to reveal her bristling hair, she loves
PONYO: alive, defiant, striving, right
to the top of the wave.
I can only hope they’re with her,
when she’s old enough to make that jump.
When she has to brace her back
in the face of cruel humiliation,
when her time comes
to heave off the titan weight of shame.
When she has to be
I hope
she turns out brave.

Eugenie Scarlett


Eugenie Scarlett is a poet based in Canberra, Australia. She’s interested in pre-modern Chinese poetry, border ballads, ABC Kids TV and all the plants of the Aranda bushland.

© 2019