|I am learning to change how my body speaks because
once upon a time standing too proud was an invitation
for a stranger's hands
to slip beneath my clothes
in a well-lit corner of a crowded bookstore
where a circumference of words crushed me deep into silence
that and his fingers pressed to my skin
as my body folded hard in protest
taught by culture and fear that I couldn't say no.
At ten years old I carried betrayal
in the curve of my shoulders
like they could push my growing flesh back inside
revoke my membership to the club of children
who believed that violation was just a half-step away,
that once you belonged you were a member for life,
that each day her body spread into its curves
there was one more child,
one more child,
one more and one more,
one more paying dues in dread and defense,
creating her fort with the shell of her back.
And as her body showed its years in flesh,
she couldn't touch what seemed so exposed,
not the stretch of her hips
or the pull of her breasts
the things that made her feel like a whore the way
the grass outside felt dirty and wet,
the shit-smell of soil in the vulgar wind.
How can you love what asks for violation?
The ground left open fields the assault;
trash and concrete, bombs and poison,
and all she did was lay herself bare,
flat on her back,
napping wide in the sun
til some stranger wanted to thrust his drills,
his plows and machinery,
ripping her open and pinning her down.
And maybe it's just that she should've known better.
There's a safety in the hardness of stone,
'cause under concrete she sleeps like a carcass
believing that nothing disturbs the dead.
And outside she hears the stirs of the city
that only wants her for what she provides.
But even the most solid surface gives way to persistence,
and early each morning,
among the rumble of garbage trucks and whistle of cars
there's one sound come like music,
as an army of rejects combs the streets.
They move in battalions sifting through refuse,
making change and survival from what's been discarded.
And under the cold tombstone of sidewalks,
she awaits resurrection,
to be saved by those considered her dregs.
And it's that music of change in the morning cold
that reminds her how one can rise from the dead,
how what seems to be worthless holds the power to transform,
how revolution can come one coin at a time,
subtracting the filth that pollutes her blood--
and so she starts her rebellion with one blade of grass
that pushes through her cemented shackles
and what it demands spreads over her gravestone,
cracking and widening, lifting, exploding the thing she once thought
would forever cage her,
and with that one blade of grass
she reminds us how she used to grow
how she ran between water and leapt to the skies,
plunged deep into basses and beneath the sea,
and how she still knows how to rumble and quake,
to burn and pour because the city can't stop what she truly is--
and she teaches me to remember the things I discard,
to remember the things I thought were useless--
to find salvation in what I considered my dregs
and so each month I think of the things I let go,
each month I listen when my body lets go,
each month it bleeds to remind me let go
it tells me that blood doesn't always mean harm,
it tells me that blood is the thing that gives life,
and so I listen,
to what my body speaks,
the speaking destroying that prison of words
as I rise and rise to stretch into my skin
and I push myself into my farthest reaches
where smallness and fear snap and disperse,
and like the gentle center of a flower in bloom,
I reveal my heart, freed of its shell.