the thing about the body

Poster of a drawing of a young woman smiling with the words, arms wrapped around her body -- it's the only one you've got -- next to her. The words "love your body" have been ripped off of the posterOh, good morning, good morning, out there. Is it quiet where you are? In my head, here, there’s some cacophony — but outside it’s still quiet — no birdsong, no owls.

Last night, at Write Whole, we had this prompt: First, make a list of parts of the body. Got that? Now fit those words into this phrase: “The thing about ___ is…”

You’ll end up with several prompts, depending on how many items were on your list: The thing about hands is…, the thing about backs is…, the thing about shoulders is… You might even chose (as many of us did) to use, The thing about bodies is…

Change these in any way that’s interesting for you (The thing about my shoulders is… or the thing about her hands … or the thing about his back isn’t…)

Notice which of these fragments is calling for completion, and let that be your starting place this morning. We took twenty minutes. You take the time you’d like.

Here’s my response to this prompt:

The thing about the body is that it hold so much sorrow and joy, it carries weight greater than the sum of its parts, greater than the scale can register. It — she, we — this body is laden with history that no one can see scratched across its surface except me. there re the phrases and fragments that lie at the underside of my feet, in my kneecap, in the ball that’s captured within my shoulderblade.

The thing about the body is its noises and its silences, its poetic licenses, its hand held devices. the thing about the body is it knows. Where can I go from here? This body is carrying too much forever right now, too much implosion, tells me when to stop and go and I am learning to pay attention — not just to twinges and pains but to the deep unspeakable Yes-es that live in muscles that want to stretch, slip against time, relinquish into a new kind of knowing.

The thing about this body is that its beloved. It’s finally beloved, under its own eyes — if I wanted to stop objectifying I could say in my own eyes. I look in the mirror and think how glad I am of these strong thighs, hard-walking feet, calves that push me up hills, belly I can cup just in the palms of my two hands, a back that can bear both joy and burden. I have been thinking, now and again for several years, in these sparks and flashes of joy and pleasure-taking–really, feels like cracks in the asphalt armor of self shame and mass misappropriation of the labor my own eyes are meant to do — what was I saying? I mean, when I consider my own skin and bone, when I have this deep joy about, god, just look, this good and troubled body. In those moments, there isn’t forefronted the horrors that stretchmark their silent scars across thighs or breasts, there’s just this profound appreciation for a body gone golden and furred and hard and soft with work and tears and laughter,¬† I have this exquisite ache of longing — already — for what will be lost when I die, how I will, it must be that I will miss this good body, these hands that have held shame and cupped loves and dug into earth all across this wide country, these legs that give me hills, that translate¬† longing or sorrow or rage to motion and just let me go, this belly that has been squeezed and unfavored and adorned that now rests pretty and soft just over my lap and gets (even maybe though it’s just for this moment) to be beloved.

What does it mean to come to the place where the site of the crime can be beloved, I mean when the tar-slicked terrain can be reclaimed, where I hold and understand, yes, his mouth has rested here, here, and there–but not today. Today I know those stories exist,but they are an undershadow, an inside ring, an old cascading. What does it mean when I decide the castigated, too-wide smile gets to be just and exactly right for those too-full cheeks? What does it mean to hold (to have held), in one hand, his penetrations, and, in the other, hold the glory these very fingers can bring forth from that same curve and flush of my skin? This is a hard-working body, a privileged body, a harmed body, a beloved body. What does it mean when all these are true, exactly at the same moment, and I can just meet this scattershot heartbeat with joy?

Thanks for your you-ness today, the ways you are tender and gentle with the bodies that surround you, including your own. Thank you for your creative energies today. Thank you for your words.

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