they pay to kiss your feet

since there's no one else around, we let our hair grow long and forget all we used to know. then our skin gets thicker from living out in the snow.

Saturday, May 26, 2012

threaded together.

sometimes words bubble out of me
painfully marked by silence
and then
a sigh
before i find the next word
to say.
like my body is forming them
inside some word womb
putting together letters
threaded together by
a dull needle
a puncture wound.
those are the times when
i'm not sure i've said
and i wonder
if the words my heart
plucked and put on my tongue
were the right ones.

but who am i to argue
with my heart.

i am just a silly girl
who gets distracted
by the way you can actually hear the breeze
listen to it)
when there are lots of trees in the way. 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

without completely falling apart.

A close family member was raped by a man who forced his way into her house as she let her dogs out. After he was finished terrorizing her, he continued to breathe a wave of disrespect and pain throughout my neighborhood. His last attack was around the corner from my house.

When you get a call from your dad at 8 a.m. and the first words out of his mouth are “Honey, are you at home? I have some really bad news,” you freeze. The coffee you were drinking gets forgotten and you sit down. When he tells you that she was raped and robbed the night before and that he’d been over there since 2 a.m., you do two things. You lose your breath. And you get angry. Then you decide you have to do something. But there is no manual for what to do when someone so close to you is hurt so badly. So your sister comes over and you decide that maybe the best thing to do is to go over to the house to show your support. And to bring a pizza. When you get there, the police will still be outside, and she will, somehow, still be standing and strong.  You’ll cry because you’ll picture what happened there and also because you’re glad she’s still alive. Although bruised and limping, she’s alive.

As a woman we block a lot of things out. Memories of things that hurt us. Abusive language that was spewed our way. We compartmentalize events so that they don’t seem as bad as they really are – sticking them in sashayed and linen-lined drawers. But when your world is rocked by rape, shit gets unblocked. Things, like letting the dog out become feats of bravery. Sleeping through the night in a creaky old house means your bedtime gets pushed and pushed until eventually, you’re not sleeping at all. You spend hours trying to catch the fucker who dared to tread on your family’s turf. You help organize a reward-raising benefit. You plan, you work, you contribute. Because contributing is easier than doing nothing. Doing nothing might kill you.

And although you keep moving forward, it’s different now. Your drawers are opened, their contents splayed out like wounded soldiers, bleeding and dirty.

I was listening to this song and the lyrics talk about hardly being able to see what’s in front of you – it ends with a haunting echo “oh, God – where have you been.”  A question I’d been afraid to ask. Until then.

I think the answer is that while He didn’t go anywhere, it is no disrespect to allow ourselves to feel pain. And loss. And lost. Because when we don’t let our souls morn, we can’t fully heal.

My innocence was shattered beyond shattered the morning my Dad called me. And that phone call just got tacked on to my list of things I’ve lost. My first marriage was an abusive failure. I can’t carry a child.  I have a chronic pain condition. And while I can wallow, I shouldn’t. I need to realize that carrying a baby doesn’t make you a woman. That successful marriages don’t make you a woman. That respect doesn’t make you a woman.

But courage – courage makes you a woman. And strength. And being able to move over and through. Not getting stuck. Fighting back. Being light.

Radiant, light.

It’s not about how much was taken away. It’s about how much you hold on to. It’s what you reclaim as yours. And even more than that, I think it’s about honesty.

It’s telling our stories. Like the one about my family and my past marriage and my struggle with pregnancy and emotions and anxiety and you know what, I don’t think I’m alone.

Being a woman is about being proud. It’s about looking at yourself in the mirror – all naked and vulnerable. And accepting the scar on your knee, the cellulite on your thighs and the shape of your nose. It’s loving yourself enough from the inside that the outside starts to shine brighter.

It’s taking your drawers and washing what’s inside with forgiveness.

So that when someone calls to tell you that a member of your family has been hurt, you can go to her without completely falling apart.

 *note: this piece was originally published in The Womanhood Project - a compilation of essays discussing the topic of womanhood. you can join the conversation here.

Friday, May 11, 2012

in the event of a fire.

my life is full
of circles.
starting points that end
where they begin.
that reoccur
in the middle of
night sweats
sips of water from crate and barrel tumblers.
the pattern on the chair
(yellow. white. grey)
that i traded a ring for.
words that come back
to remind me
(oh, hi.)
that i said them.
words that come back
to remind me
(oh, you again?)
that someone said them to me.
so i fill my ears with hard plastic
and turn the volume to high
concentrating on
the melody of words put to music.
other people's words.
not mine.
and as i run the same streets
that i ran as a child
the beat pulses through me
only my feet recognize
the ground.
the cracks.
the place where my dad used a stick
to draw my name
in wet cement.
the spot where the rain
used to make
the best puddle
for splashing.
the one that trips me
making me stop
hardly able to stand
right below the window -
the one on the upper east corner.
the one as tall as the trees.
and suddenly
i remember the moment
i looked out
and decided that window would be
a perfect escape
in the event of a fire.