this is how to remove yourself from a body

Thank you to Kendra Allen and The Boiler for choosing my poetic essay for runner-up for The Boiler Prize. The Boiler is a great, online journal that celebrates creative work that “turns up the heat, whistles, and stands up to pressure.”

A little about this poem. I keep going back to a moment in a classroom with a teacher who told me to move on from writing about the body. Clearly I must have other things to write about, no? What I tell my students is that sometimes we have to keep writing about the same thing until it feels like it has said all it needs to say. We never tell people to stop writing about love. I mean, aren’t there enough love poems to last us another few centuries? Love takes on all sorts of shapes, smells, attitudes, textures, after-tastes. There is no ONE WAY of love.

So here is my body. It is over forty years old and I barely know it. I know I have mistreated it. I know I forget to ask it what it needs, wants. I have difficulty forgiving it. That is to say, I have difficulty forgiving myself. My body and I are strangers, therefore, the writing of it continues. By writing about my body, I am learning it as it is forgiving me.

There are stories inside my body I am afraid of. They are impolite and not exactly appropriate as conversational interludes. Sometimes I think about cutting up the years off my body, but I’ve got enough potholes, and even what haunts me makes me me. No?

So as my therapist has been suggesting and encouraging me: let go of metaphors and just say it. But I’ve still got retraining to do.

For instance, I am sad most days. This pandemic has given me an excuse to play hide n-go seek with myself. Wait. That looks like a metaphor. Let me try again. This pandemic has given me an excuse to be alone, to isolate. Most days, I wait for the clock to tell me the day is over.

I digress. If you are still reading, what I am trying to say is: there is no story inside the body that doesn’t deserve a voice, a notebook to scream into, a place to exhale all its blood and shiver. I am still forming. I am still deciding who I am. I am still removing myself from this body, sometimes. I am still learning how to survive being in it.

Read more here: THE BOILER