The thought-provoking poet, Dan Dissinger, once spoke about a forest on his throat. I finally understand what that really feels like.
All day, I felt this undergrowth and moss migrate to various areas of my body. Roots pressed against lungs. Leaf canopy cradling my liver. The forest floor, cracked and spreading into my limbs.
Tropical rainforests have been called the world’s largest pharmacies. So medicinal and healing. My alleviation didn’t arrive until much later in the day, but it arrived.
Body rode bicycle over year-old bricks. Walked inside building full of papercuts and ISBNs. Breathed in the aroma of alphabetized poetics and fictionalized accounts of memory. Chose a stack of distractions. With each shift of body against air, I felt the roots of tree branch jut against my ribs. This forest is loud and persistent.
Drank coffee with a human who has enough words inside to sop up all the blood and batter. Exchanged sighs and grunts, as I wondered what ecosystem they had internally.
Got a ticket for riding my bike on the sidewalk! Was polite when police officer asked me for ID and do you know why I pulled you over and do you have any warrants out for your arrest?
But that forest needed to come out and finally, it did.
After they asked me my weight (while filling out the ticket) and I responded:
And then they asked me my height:
5’4 and three quarters, I answered.
They looked toward my eyes.
Hazel, I announced.
They peered toward my hair.
Red, I said, proudly.
I noticed the F. Most days I do not care. I fill this consonant out myself. Create the two lines, one longer than the other. Understand what it stands for. Try not to complicate things. I am a woman. I’ve got the parts. But. But. Perhaps it was the oxisol, weathering and churning inside me that caused me to say:
Excuse me, I do not mean to be confrontational by any means but. But. You asked me how tall I am. You asked me my weight. You catalogued my hair color and eyes. And then you just threw down an F without asking me. You cannot assume. You should not assume. You do not know.
Uniformed professional looked me up and down. Said:
I could take you in right now. You don’t have a driver’s license (I chose not to offer it up). You are giving me your address and I am trusting that it is correct (it was). If you had given me your license, it would have been stated.
None of that matters. You should always ask, I politely offered. Because even on licenses, it can be wrong.
We stood, with another police officer beside us, on Fulton Street, not far from my home. I was patient. I channeled the forest in me to take root of every word, pull it out carefully and responsibly. I was not fighting with this officer; I was educating.
So, what do you want me to put down? they asked.
I took a deep breath. Felt the medicinal properties float around like weightless astronauts inside me.
That’s a complicated question, I said. I’m not sure. But it’s no longer about that letter. It’s about you needing to know that you need to ask.
As I biked home, I looked at my skin and noticed soil dripping out of my pores. Oh yes, I am growing. My skin is excreting earth and this is a reminder that I am part of all this. I had a pink reminder folded up in my pocket of this exchange, of money now owed to NYC. I was shaking like leaves in a storm, a shivered rush of movement.
I am brought back to a sensation I received one day earlier, as I purchased my very first new tie and collared, button-down shirt at a fancy store for a fancy wedding. I have a collection of ties, but never one that has only worn my neck. I walked up to the cash register with two genders. Human behind counter rung everything up and then I said: Actually I am just going to get the tie and shirt. Who was I buying that other thing for?
We take our bodies for granted. We sometimes forget that we don’t always need microphones to speak out the truths inside us. This forest continues to grow, fill me up, drench my throat, and remind me of my radicle.