Thursday, July 12, 2012

The numbers


**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
                       And fallacy?

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.
But
On the flip side
                Is me now. Faithful, strong wife to an athlete and coach
                With cancer
                Mother of three
                Independent power goddess
                Growing
                Giving
*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.
But
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
From Thoreau
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
Gone rogue.

Cancer.

Incurable.

“Isn’t that enough?”
Since you are strong enough, no.

Teacher of 12 years
Finding faith
                Strength and hope
Standing at the head of the class, coaching
Modeling
Understanding
I have seen how much more kids learn
From our actions
So I act out the best of me
                For them
And in acting
Become
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

So…
Empty the closet
Put up my trophies, my past Me’s,
Embrace them
                                                The scared
                                          Lonely
                                    Raped
                                Lost
                     Betrayed
                Abused
      Confused
And alone

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
More numbers
This battle with cancer
And cohorts, desperation and destitution
Without my armor, my shield, and my weapons
I’d lose

This time I’m gaining the strength that comes
From learning to ask for help
Repeatedly
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
I’ve survived.

And let me always remember
To use the numbers to count the time, feel the rhythm.
I love to dance.