Posts Tagged ‘body image’



And though I curse you

and drive you and push you,

body, you hold me,

you carry the soul,

you transform the plum

and the leaf into laughter,

you make tears out of water

and wine. You leap

and you slump, you

sing and you hunger,

you skip and run and crawl.

You let me be part of the miracle

when you made a new body within—

building spine and brain and chin

and toe out of broccoli and coffee and toast.

And when I am clumsy,

you wear the scars to remind me

where we have been. You

change, you soften, you rearrange.

You heal, you insist, you rest.

How, after all these years,

do I still find ways to ignore you?

You who have carried me across finish lines,

you who have held the weeping child?

Why, when I look in the mirror,

do I do anything but marvel

at your skill? Imagine, you breathe

without my command. You regenerate cells.

You tell the blood where to go and when.

Oh body, I’m sorry. I have hurt you. And you,

you hold me like the child that I am,

and you breathe me, you teach me,

you let me try again.

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I like my body when I’m in the woods

and I forget my body. I forget that arms,

that legs, that nose. I forget that waist,

that nerve, that skin. And I aspen. I mountain.

I river. I stone. I leaf. I path. I flower.

I like when I evergreen, current and berry.

I like when I mushroom, avalanche, cliff.

And everything is yes then, and everything

new: wild iris, duff, waterfall, dew.

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for Betty Rocker

I roll out the yoga mat in the living room

and find the You Tube channel

on which the twenty-something girl

with an armful of tattoos and a perky smile

tells me in her perky voice all about how great it is

I am going to take care of myself for just

fifteen minutes a day. She says that

five times, as if to both belittle it—

you spend more time than that

on social media, she suggests—

and at the same time elevate it—

you can do so much good in just fifteen minutes!


Some part of me wants to hate her,

but she is clearly so happy about what

we’re about to do together in our living rooms.

She claps to punctuate each thought,

and does a little skip in place as if to say

I am ready before I am ready.

I have been ready before. I remember

what it’s like to be ready. I remember

multiple decades when I was so ready

I just never stopped. I remember feeling

somewhat sorry for people who, as I do now,

rely on someone else to tell them to kick

and how high.

But I don’t hate the perky young woman.

In fact, I can’t help but fall in love

with her exuberance, the way she enthuses

through the burpees and turns the wide plank

into a star, whee! she squeals. And in fact,

as I do crescent kicks, like a ninja, she says,

I can’t help but laugh and smile because

she is right—it’s fun. And I feel goofy

and great and so glad to be the woman

I said I would never be. Somewhere,

a young woman is feeling sorry for me.

Somewhere, another woman is doing

lunges and squats in her living room.

Tomorrow we’ll do it again.

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Oh body, I’ve tried to silence you.
I have told you not to hunger
when you were starved.
I told you to run and ski and swim
when you were tired.
I tugged you long into the dark corridors of night
when you wanted to sleep.
I draped you in dresses two times too big
to hide your angled bones.
And you, you have lured me to the waterfall
to stand beneath the startling shock.
You have lain me down in tall grass
to lose myself staring up at sky.
You have curled into the softness of men
and held the fear of children.
Inside panic, you have found breath.
You have opened to let the new life pass through,
and given milk and song and hum.
And when the tears want to come,
you let them come.
Body, my vessel, my carriage, my curse,
my blessings, my bane, my teacher,
I am still learning how to be a woman.

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Again the invitation
to love the body
this very moment.

Not the way it was once,
all limber and lean,
all smooth and able.

Not the way it might
be someday in the future
if only, if only. The invitation

to love it now. No
exceptions. No rain date.
No directions how to get there.

No box for maybe.
The invitation arrives
as it always does,

without an envelope.
Without a return address.
No RSVP. No name on it

but your own. No trumpets.
No angels singing about
how all flesh is holy. No

clowns telling jokes.
No balloons.
It arrives so quiet,

but so sincere, right beside
the impulse to crumple
it up. Now what to do.

The rising urge to run.
The rising urge to bow.

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