My Body, My Choice

Vinny chats me up as one can do in 8th grade

(as boys can do in 8th grade), and says,

“Girls look better with their hair down.”

 

10th grade:

Allie tells me over pizza in a torn up, faux leather booth:

“People think you’re really pretty.”

 

“Take the bait,” they whisper.

“We are you.”

Your face, your words,

your worth:

we hold them in our hands.

 

I grew fragile.

 

“Not to mention you’re beautiful,”

a text from Devin I saved on my phone for 2 years,

a reminder that if I kept this up,

I could be loved.

“You’re special,” they said.

“Your precise,” they reminded.

“Keep it up.”

I never heard them clearly;

it was always muffled in my ears.

 

Confidence was for the battlefield,

and without cleats on my feet

and a soccer ball underneath

I depended, fully,

on this

damn

face.

 

Middle school:

Vinny was saying he “saw my potential”

and in that moment he pointed a finger at a moon

I did not know — that lights up the sky day and night.

With each step forward from that statement came promise,

like one day my body would, miraculously, lift off the ground and fly.

 

High school: I worked, observed, learned to follow the rules.

I made friends. I chased boys (or at least followed the chasers).

I saw a twinkle form in my eyes like the sun hitting my face

and I felt something grow: confidence big enough to sew a sweater.

That confidence was soft and warm and humble,

each stitch a modest color, so I put it on:

oh, the comfort…the ease.

 

What sweater?

This is my skin, clear as day.

I don’t need all of these words–

they’re woven into my Long Island DNA

and somewhere…somewhere…I seized it.

 

College: I was prepared!

My sweater was woven!

My charm was rooted!

Soccer, friends, face.

 

And then, college happened.

And it was full of devils,

people a mere sweater cannot take on

you want — comfort?

We’ll beat you.

You want — friendship?

We’ll desert you.

You think you’ve got talent?

We’ll show you.

Bam               bam              bam.

My skin faded, my body ached,

and what can a person do but blame what is left?

 

Wisdom swims through my veins.

Nana has her Jesus

and I have my Julia de Burgos

and that’s quite alright with me.

I build a new ship to freedom…

something you cannot wear, but ride–

invisible on all sides, impenetrable,

so much so that my world forgets the words

“break” and “fear” and “fall,”

that Kenny’s story can be his own.

that Marlena’s antagonism can be her own,

and that I can feel the wisdom in me,

the quiet confidence that does not need

a coach to tell me my worth.

 

I just play.

 

December 22, 2018

Doubt

I’ve been thinking.

What’s new.

 

But this was more of meta thought:

a thought about thought

(again, what’s new).

 

What’s new

is our apparent understanding

of doubt

is flawed.

 

The one thing we know for sure

is that we know nothing.

Doubt operates under the

assumption that we know

something. 

If we know nothing,

there is no room for doubt, either.

 

Yeah, we know some things-

the sky is blue

(but what is blue?)

the earth is round

(but where are we, really?)

I love you

(oh, love…)

 

We cannot know everything;

We cannot know anything

with full clarity.

 

If there is no doubt,

what is there?

There is wisdom,

and perhaps room for a free,

roaming type of love.

 

Or, at least, that’s what I think.

 
June 12, 2016

Truth, Wisdom, Love

The weight

of the Truth

is the weight

of a mountain–

a single Earth.

The weight

of Wisdom

is the weight

of a feather–

a single tear.

It is

bright tonight

as I huddle tight

next to a soft pillow

and a softer light,

shining

the way Love

greets lovers

in the doorway…

November 5, 2015

Frozen Lake

It has

taken me a while

to sit in a dark corner,

rest in my chair

and think about the scene

on the lake:

children following

chilled ear-muffed parents,

falling into black puddles

my eyes sore

from their grimaces

and yet, all too soon,

they come back up again.

 

I was never too trusting

of my skates;

faces tell me their parents

are not either.

 

I suppose

falling and rising

are the stepping stones of a generation,

frostbite, bumps and bruises

making our own easier to handle,

each crack in the ice

new wisdom,

a sudden truth

that all we need to know

is not the mirage,

sprawled green grass glowing in the distance.

 

It is the frozen

here and now.

 

July 23, 2015