Before the play I watched her sit, posed, on a rock,
one knee bent up, near her chin. She was covered just so
modestly with what can only be called a frock,
one bright red shoe dangling from a pedicured toe.
Let me say more about her fabulous dress
which I got to observe going down the hill after
the play. Sheer and sleeveless, white, a mess
of summer flowers painted on the skirt.
Everything looked expensive and just exactly right.
I haven’t mentioned yet how old she was.
Seventy-something I’m guessing, which is why
it wasn’t a surprise to see her favoring her knees
as we made our way to the parking lot and why
I can’t get the way I saw her first out of my mind.
These are my red shoes. Not hers. Still.
I saw her before and after seeing The Unexpected Man at the Touchstone @ American Players Theatre (which is wonderful and which you should go see and which I will write about more if I can think of anything to say other than “perfect”) so of course I couldn’t possibly say anything to this woman about any of this.
Posted in American Players Theatre, Bloem or Pog, Body Image, Daring Greatly, Poetry, Poetry journal, Spring Green, Uncategorized
Tagged Aging, American Players Theatre, body positive, body positivity, poetry, red shoes, sonnet, The Unexpected Man, Yasmina Reza
When it’s cold and dark next winter, I will wish
for summer, crave it more than sugar, more
than sleep. When I start to feel bone-chilled, I’ll push
my memory buttons hard, hunting for
a night just like last night. Until the sun
went down, it was truly hot, still 90 at six
on our way to the park, sunglasses on,
multiple water bottles filled to the max.
When the sun finally hid behind a barn,
it was suddenly cool. My son’s team lost again
(they often do). It’s hard when you’re 12 to lose
and learn from it, to lose and not feel blue
all night. But he spent the ride home cheering for heat
lightning along the horizon, big and fast and pink.
Excitement at breakfast: a house centipede
dropped from the ceiling (the ceiling fan?)
onto the kitchen table and skittered
(that is their word; almost nothing else
so purely skitters as they) through the clutter
on the table and onto the floor.
My husband rushed in responding
to the hollering and the laughing.
We don’t kill house centipedes at our house.
We gather them up and move them outside.
All of us do that, but this time my husband did
because my son and I were still laughing
and hollering. I kept saying how
I thought it was a mouse. I must have said
“corner of my eye” a dozen times.
The gentle gathering and removing is the mode
for spiders too, for my husband and son. It isn’t mine.
I blithely kill spiders inside. I don’t even apologize.
We all smush ants, every spring
in the seasonal onslaught of ants
which recedes by the middle of June
whether or not we clean obsessively
or put out syrupy poisons, so lately
we do nothing but annihilate them on sight.
And once again I’m fascinated by that line
we draw and where we draw it,
what we kill and what we eat
and what all we’re willing to tolerate.
What makes us say “oh well,”
what makes us say “enough,”
what makes us say nothing at all
because we didn’t see it skittering,
not even from the corner of our eye.
Here’s a great blog post about house centipedes, which advocates for not killing them. I concur. But I’m less open to any blog about live and let live modes for spiders. Or ants.
“I can feel St. Elmo’s fire burning in me”
—some 80s band
Fallout will make the sunsets stunning
someone told me and I believe it,
just like pollution from St. Louis once
turned the sky above the American Bottoms pink
to contrast nicely with the deep dark green
of the Cahokia Mounds.
Those mound-dwellers had it all
but they don’t have what we have,
so much potential as wasted as
the best chocolate-chip cookie in the world
chewed four times and spit out
by someone with different body issues
than I have, having never wasted a cookie,
never not once in my whole life,
unless you count as waste that whole
eating more calories than you burn thing,
in which case I waste food all the time,
but I don’t count that way and I wish you wouldn’t.
If only self-loathing could contour
my shape! If only rumination paid off
in dollars and not cortisol!
If only the strange map of cracking
in the front left panel of my Ford
could show me the way to solvency.
Are all the mustards invasive?
The splash of yellow I see in fields now,
and Dame’s Rockets everywhere—
it’s hard to hate them
with their bright mauvey pink bouncing
in the breeze that is somehow not
strong enough to discourage mosquitoes.
Reconciliation comes before repair,
at least I think it does, and so I try
to love what’s here and who I am
and the massive disasters around me
and trust I will know what to fix when
it’s time to fix and until such time
as fixing is all I care about, I will just let
the fact that I am a large woman make me feel the same way
a bad song from the 80s can make me
happy, just happy, just really happy.
Something remarkable happened today—
I looked in the mirror and I liked how I looked.
(I was wearing a swimming suit, by the way.)
There’s something you should know—how very much I weigh,
and the fact that my back is fused and strange and crooked.
Something remarkable happened today
in the locker room mirror. I thought, “Hey–
nice hip.” (The right one sticks out and I had it stuck.)
I was wearing my bright blue one-piece, by the way,
the one that inspired a very fit man last month to say
“New suit, looks good.” I mostly just said thanks,
which means another remarkable thing happened that day.
I didn’t make excuses. I didn’t say
I’m sorry I’m not leaner. I didn’t choke
for wearing a swimming suit. By the way,
I thought my entire body looked okay.
For me to think that—it’s like lightning struck.
Something remarkable happened today.
I was wearing a swimming suit, by the way.
I think she’d have a serious suit.
I think she’d wear a swim cap, no matter
how short her hair was currently.
I think she’d have a lane preference
and I think she’d express it to anyone
already there. I think she’d get her way.
Would she be a swamper? A splasher? A drifter? No,
I think she’d move through the water cleanly,
like an angry little otter. An opinionated knife.
She might critique my stroke. She might admire my
persistence. She might have a theory about how I float.
What would it be like to care so much
about everything? My husband’s like that.
I am not.
She’s got a new book coming out, apparently–will probably buy it. Still think about Sexual Personae now and then. This article brought her to mind.
So when it all comes down,
what it all comes down to, what
the answer is, the question is
how I did, how did I
those bits of time,
my moments, my allotment of them,
what did I do with them
where did I leave them
did I wring them dry
did I use them well
then clean and oil them,
put them away to use again–
I would be likely to do
and not something
anyone can do with a moment
I gorged on some
and let the shiny wrappers pile right up
and this one–this one
I’m holding like an injured dove
but there are more, so many,
so many, they scuttled away
like roaches or I stomped them
and anyway they’re gone
I wrote this poem whilst on retreat at Holy Wisdom Monastery in Middleton, Wisco (a truly special place)