bodylove (again)

graffiti of a bird (a penguin) with the words "love me" on its round bellyThis morning the candles led me into the notebook, and I’ve got to be up and out early, so this is a short prompt today:

If you are in a place where you can, I want to invite you to put your hands on a part of your body that you have hated, that has been a place of shame or loss or embarrassment, that has held trauma for you. If you don’t want to actually rest your hands there, imagine doing so. Just rest your hands and/or energy there for a moment. Notice what rises up in you as you give some energy to this part of your body — or maybe to your body as a whole. What does it mean to deeply love and cherish your body, all of its parts, exactly as it is — as you are?

At this point, I like to invite a love letter to that part of the body that you’re cradling in your good hands (and it might be a love letter to your hands, too!) — notice what tone such a letter might take: adoring, apologetic, rueful, sweet, seductive, tender. What do you want to say to this part of your body? What does this part of your body want to say to you?

Sometimes, on nights when I offer this prompt, I share one of these poems as well:

This Part of Your Body
Lin Max

you won’t touch or call it by name yet
but this part of your body –
this part of your body
you’re going to get to know
better than your elbow
this part of your body
you’re going to love
and hate
this part of your body
will swell and drip dew
attracting hunters and slaves
this part of your body
may be your secret joy
but this part of your body
will keep you off the streets after dark
it will be poked and spread by stainless steel
scrutinized by strangers with scalpels
behind white drapes
as if were not a part of you
this part of your body will stretch
over the heads of human beings
or tighten to a finger in its gentle rhythm
this part of your body
is more expressive
than your mouth
this part of your body
laughs louder
has its own exhausted grimace
this part of your body moans
its lonely emptiness
you will spend your life trying to fill
this part of your body

(from Claiming the spirit within)

by Matthew Schwartz

My crutches felt heavier than I was.
They landed with a thick thud on the blacktop
each time I took a step. I had to watch how I walked

so I didn’t fall, like the other kids expected.
I liked to leave my crutches half-buried
behind the sandbox, where I couldn’t see them,

and creep up the uneven monkey bars
arced like the upper half of a globe.
I wanted to see the whole playground.

The rungs crowded too close together,
and none of them was shaped the same.
I lifted my feet slowly to keep my braces quiet

against the metal. At the top, I could still hear
the jump rope flying, my friend throwing
handfuls of sand. I slipped. I locked my arms

tighter around whatever bars I could reach, and my leg
tensed and shook and hit the rung too close to me
when I tried going down, and my foot shot

through the gap, and dangled there.
I thought I could maybe slide out.
I thought my body could fit like my foot did,

but I was stuck. Everyone could see me,
everyone could hear me asking myself
What do I do with my body if it’s

not a secret?

(from Scars Tell Stories: A Queer and Trans(Dis)ability Zine)

Follow your writing wherever it seems to want you to go.

Thank you for your tenderness with your own good and complicated body, and for your tenderness with others’ bodies, too.

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