For this write (the second for this week’s Fearless Words group), because we’d been talking about ways we reclaim our bodies, I invited us to write to a prompt from Naomi Shihab Nye’s poem “Two Countries” – Skin had hope. That’s what skin does.
We took about 10 minutes. Here’s what came for me:
I have been looking back at old journals recently, reading the self I was at 29 when my ex-wife and I had just lost a child and I, only five years out of my stepfather’s abuse and control and mental manipulation, was trying to do everything right — mourn right, partner right, be an adult right, study right, show up right. The self that shows up in those old journals is hard to read — she feels self-centered, whiny, repetitive, closed. I get embarrassed for her, for me — my god, did I really sound like that? And then I pull back, remember all she was carrying, all she was grieving, all the healing she hadn’t even begun to be able to consider doing yet. And then I am grateful for that 29-year old self. For showing up, day after day, putting one foot in front of the other, one word in front of the other. For continuing to have hope. For continuing to desire, even when she had every single reason in anybody’s logical world to quit desiring and just sit still and stop. She had earned the fucking right to quit, and she didn’t.
Naomi Shihab Nye wrote, “Skin had hope. That’s what skin does.” That 29 year old woman, with all her confusion and loss, her struggle to be in her body ever at all, she had hope. Ridiculous hope. Her skin, even, had hope. even while she wrote over and over, What good is this doing? What’s the use of any of this work? — still, she listened to her hungers and she followed them. She got me here now, skin still hungry and hopeful, able to feel accept kindness and love.