Today was my last gathering for a class from this first semester of grad school. This class was a reconciliation of self…it uncovered and gave voice to the many aspects of the person that sits before you. It granted me permission to discuss both victories and challenges; my gifts – both given and received. In trying to give voice to these moments of contact – sometimes a first meeting between mySELF and BODYself – I would get lost or confused with my words. I call myself a poet and a writer and here I am tousled in the waves of inadequacy. It was as though I was chasing some voice that had long gone silent and lost the will to speak. I would sit with an endless inner chatter as if I could convince myself that I could indeed find the words to describe each experience in a meaningful way. And every time…even I was searching for Tayla between the lines.
I ask you to let the words wash over you just as they are. This is a compiled poem of all the semesters papers, in no particular order.
How do I tell you this story of discovery?
That all my life, I’ve been cold
Wrapped and warpped by a purple hue
With my shoulders up to my ears to keep my neck warm,
Making it hard to stick out.
How can tell about this body with only words as sound?
I listen to the cracking and popping of joint bone that comes from hours of limited use
And the abuses unnamed by a student of the body.
The process of embodiment that is both relief and pain…
Of feet finally freed from six inch stilettos
How do I tell you about these privileged moments of life?
The replaying of hollow sirens devoid of any urgency…
To be so far from emergency that it’s just a distant call of lives lived far, far away.
Being struck dumb by the comfort of choosing to ignore it.
How do I tell you that I’ve always been
And that when I’m feeling trapped in it…it’s torture,
So I look for the moon,
In an effort to become more my animal body than my domesticated human self
And shake free.
How do I tell you that my life line is a fighter jet?
That my love is shaken.
That shaken is the sound of skateboards liberating windshields.
If I can roll my eyes back far enough,
I will remember what it’s like to break free
of all strange pain.
How do I tell you about this view of the world?
That in trying to find my way in it, I’m stuck with words in my throat…
and sadness somewhere below that..
But when I get into it
There’s a soft melting of the chokehold these memories have around my neck.
How do I tell you
That I was stuck at the whim felt experience.
Trapped on the edge of new knowing
With that little voice inside me saying “jump”
And with each passing week
I have come to believe her…
deeper I go still.
How do I tell you about my womanhood?
Sexuality, sensuality, being of body and act…
That these concepts elude me as they constantly whisper my name and call me into some new version of myself.
That I’ve been frozen under so many layers of denial.
Buried deep in the permafrost of my own pelvis.
How do I tell you honestly
That I’ve been trying, very hard, to understand what it means to be in this body?
How do we all accept and know that I’ve starved it,
run it into the ground,
eaten it into a balloon,
and crushed it.
That I’ve abused my body by laying it in front of hungry men
and at the altar of the substance of neglect.
And that now… just now in my history I say
I have the right to be a whole woman as I wish to define it.
How do I tell you that I know now
I am not just a breathing mass of sensing tissue
nor am I a ball of emotions rolling down hill in the hopes of waking up the greener side.
How do I show you that I am body,
How do I share so that I am revealed in totality.
How do I tell you about the sensation of ambiguity?
That I feel the hole created by assimilation of so many societies,
leaving me looking for a place to rest with so much of this world in this one body.
How do I tell you that I am
Oppressor and oppressed,
colonizer and colonized,
removed and remover,
other to other –
That everyday, I feel the collision of these two forces as my heart beat,
as a sense of ungrounded fluidity that knows only assimilation
and is at a loss for tribal ownership.
How do I tell you that like life
This experience rips and pulls on the shape of my eyes,
the curves of my hips,
the tone of my skin,
the sound of my voice and the words that ride on it.
That walking through this learning tickles my square high cheek bones while asking me “who gave you those?”
How do I tell you that I now have courage unspoken?
That I am now willing and able to know where Judaism sits in my heart,
how the black body moves and knows spirit and resilience,
how the Norwegian carries herself in the cold
and how the Cherokee makes peace with the land.
That I feel brave enough to ask how the Haitian came to know Louisiana
and explore what my pelvis knows about living in the bayou.
That I salivate when I wonder how Creole would roll off my tongue.
How do I tell you that I am unknowingly discovering
That I am at a loss for words.
That this show
Is controlled dancing and singing around the May Pole
That these lungs can’t be refilled often enough…
That my breath gets arrested by grief.
A grief that’s snuck in through an open window
to simply commit a crime of opportunity.
When the words come, they will lay waste to my wishful thinking.
How do I tell you what I have learned?
How can these words express the intimacy I have discovered
With a body that has desperately needed my love?
How do I show the gratitude for the broken levy in my mind
and the welling of language that washes it clean
by destroying the constructs I’ve been wandering in.
How do I say that I’ve learned to speak a new language
by speaking it.
I have found some words…they’ve been lodged behind my teeth for days
Just thoughts I’ve been sucking on.
There’s something about rolling around in the mud