**Please note- this is a poem and it does reference some adult content**
We're fools whether we dance or not, so we might as well dance. ~Japanese Proverb
It’s like I didn’t realize
I had a backpack on. If I had
I might have wanted to take it off
Or hide it.
I don’t want my skeletons in a closet, though.
I think I’d rather wear them
Display them, like hunting trophies mounted
On my memory wall
But…covering myself in my past demons?
Dancing in the rain made of
Tears of shame
Each moment, even the losses, perhaps especially those
Have become victories
Strength. Because I’m still here.
*The 16 year old
standing in the screaming slut-words
Flying from my mother’s mouth
I lived that slander till it fit, embraced it
With many men, too many.
On the flip side
Is me now. Faithful, strong wife to an athlete and coach
Mother of three
Independent power goddess
*The 19 year old
laying too drunk
Beneath The Unwanted
Conscious enough to check for a condom
But not enough to pull away
Or standing scared in a dark dorm room
While the body building underclassman
Begs for a blow job
With a threat balancing on his biceps
Or crawling crying to the motel bathroom
Dripping from the hot tub
Hiding from the 2 guys who tricked me
And took me
I tried to join in with vigor
And ended up bawling, begging to go home.
On the flip side
Is me now, 38 year old warrior
Going out dancing with the girls
Only a wing man
Stumbling happily home
To my always sober sweetheart
Who doesn’t dance and loves me
*The 22 year old living alone with 2 cats
In a cabin in Maine only mildly different
Student, teacher, volunteer, one family’s personal Mary Poppins~
Graduating that with not
Just a 4.0 degree
Most Honored Student Award
And highest graduating senior in my department.
But with the confidence that comes
From succeeding through giving.
Loving for years my own personal
Genius, reaching him, touching him,
Till beneath him, a whore
He was finally taking me, yet refusing to kiss me. 3 years
Of longing and finally finding it
Lacking the luster of any dream. An old record, skipping and scratched
These moments of me
These moments in time, some say they
Choose to change nothing
For each battle, won or lost,
Is a moment in training
For the war we are winning
Simply by living.
It’s more, though, for me.
I am here now, 38 year old
Mother of 3, 7 years a wife to a man
With a deep dent in his head
Scars from his war with brain cells
“Isn’t that enough?”
Since you are strong enough, no.
Teacher of 12 years
Strength and hope
Standing at the head of the class, coaching
I have seen how much more kids learn
From our actions
So I act out the best of me
And in acting
In becoming, building strength
So the classroom is taken
Leaving me wandering halls
A ghost in a shell
Till I realize
Whether I want it or not
That backpack is on me
These numbers all make me
Empty the closet
Put up my trophies, my past Me’s,
Each one gives me power-
The strength and protection
Of armor and weapons
It’s not that I wouldn’t change
What I’ve been through, I couldn’t.
Rather I choose to remember
For facing this battle with brain cells
Grade IV, 52 week median life span
This battle with cancer
And cohorts, desperation and destitution
Without my armor, my shield, and my weapons
This time I’m gaining the strength that comes
From learning to ask for help
The strength of flexible tenderness that comes
From know how it feels
To be the one that needs
To ask for help. And hold my head high.
No closets or trophies or backpacks
You can’t ignore numbers
But it’s too much
To wear on my sleeve
No. Instead, let me drape myself
In cloaks of my skeletons
Gowns made glittery
With the tears of past shame, loss, fear
Adorn me in jewels unbreakable
Forged in the fires
And let me always remember
To use the numbers to count the time, feel the rhythm.
I love to dance.