Posts Tagged ‘body’



            —for A



And if I could, I would breathe for you.

I would inhale and exhale and hold

your breath for you. For you I would

sigh and rant, I would hack and pant,

I would be your lungs if I could. I would

ease this ache, I would carry this pain,

I would take away fear, I would be

the wind, the wild mesa wind,

the late April wind that blows change

into all we thought we knew

and rearranges the meaning of here.

No one could ever speak for you.

But I would breathe for you, friend.

Please, breathe, please keep breathing.

I need you to breathe for you, breathe

for me, please, friend. I wish I could

breathe for you, breathe for you.

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When pregnant, it was clear

I was along for the ride with a miracle.

Sure, I could eat organic broccoli,

walk and eschew caffeine,

but that was just taking care

of the vessel. Life itself

was doing the real work.


Imagine my surprise today

to realize I’m still along for the ride.

How did I ever kid myself

that I was in charge?

And oh, the bliss today

to notice anew these hands,

these eyes, these feet!

What joy to see them again

as the miracle they are,

to offer them in service to life.

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While I Was Sleeping


And while I was sleeping, dreaming yet again

of being on stage without knowing my lines,

my erector spinae muscles decided to wrestle

with bears and my rhomboids crash landed

after the parachute didn’t open. My levator

scapulae muscles lifted ten refrigerators and

my trapezii danced in stilettos for hours. Is it any wonder

I woke unable to move my neck? There are days

we realize just how grateful we are for parts

of the body we never could name

until today the bodyworker wrote them down,

how lucky we are to take them for granted.

There are days when we wake and realize

how much happens in our sleep. There are days

we think how much easier it would be

to just end up on a stage not knowing

our lines. Darn those bears. Darn those high heels.

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Swimming to the Island




I didn’t intend to swim to the island.

Told myself it was just a quick slip

into the water. Told myself I would

rejoin the others soon. But the water

said yes to me. And my arms and legs

seemed to remember then

exactly what they were made for.

Sometimes we’re in service to something

more primal, a voice that says go, go,

keep going, though there’s no race,

no finish line, no prize, no spectators,

nothing but the thrill of becoming

the body’s bright verb. Feel how

the water buoys you, even as your weight

pulls you down, how it shimmers as far as

a woman can swim, how with each

stroke of your dripping arms,

the lake christens you again and again

a child of this very here.



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The stomach replaces its lining

every four days. Every four days.

Because it’s so highly corrosive,

every four days it remakes itself

and becomes completely new.

Love, this is what I want to do.

Because sometimes we are acid.

Because sometimes we are cruel.

I want to start over every four days.

Every four days, let us be new.

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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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Crossing the Line




Mi casa es su casa.

My arms are your arms.

My lips are your lips.

My ripeness, yours. My triceps,

yours. My hunger, my nipples,

my skin, my swollen pinks

are yours, yours. And why stop there?

My dry elbows, your elbows.

My bunions, your bunions.

My cyst, your cyst. What part

of me would you rather not love?

Could you miss it? Tell me you will also take

my thinning skin, my widening hips,

my wrinkled cheek, my cracked heel.

If my fear is your fear; my ugly,

your ugly; my broken, your broken;

my shame, your shame, then kiss me

there. Again. Please? Kiss me there.

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At the Edge of July




Summer, what could you say to this body,

this body nearing its autumn?

What could your flowers teach this heart

about blooming despite heat, despite drought?

What could your shortening days tell this woman

about opening to light?

Summer, I think I know too much.

Teach me warm. Teach me thunderstorm.

Teach me how to be green, and then greener.

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Where you stumble, there your treasure lies.
—Joseph Campbell

Oh body, this is your real destination,
the fall. The lurch. The blunder.
The stagger. The hobble. The trip.
Though I’ve practiced at grace
and balance, though I’ve rehearsed poise
and lifted weights and risen early to run, to ski,
you are destined to stumble, to teeter,
to drop, to collapse, to rot, and to call it good.
Though I eat kale and spirulina,
though I go to my physical every year,
though I think about taking my vitamins daily,
you are ordained to fail and somehow,
I am to find this failure favorable.
Every day I recognize you less—these wrinkles,
these curves, these aches, this gray—
and every day I treasure you more. Oh damn,
I guess that Campbell was right, then.
Here, at the altar of vulnerability, I have
fallen in love with you, the way you have
carried me through forests, up mountains,
across rivers and into ocean waves.
How you’ve lain in the blood of childbirth and joined
the miracle. You have kissed and fucked
and opened and spilled and arched and
writhed and pressed. You have leapt and swung
and spun and reached and nestled and
lunged and wept. And broken and crumpled, yes,
and stumbled over and over again. Oh what
a gift to have a body, to know it all, to fall
and fall and fall in love with the falling,
to lose sense of where we begin and where
we are perfectly, terribly, wholly, richly, thank you, lost.

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