I’m not seven years old anymore
Sitting on the sidelines watching,
Thinking “I could never do that” and yet
Always my strength and balance are overtopped
By the sinking feeling of worthlessness
Never measuring up
The humiliation of failing in front of others is nothing
Compared to the death of confidence
Already rotting in my skull
Before I ever take the first step.
I see them flying, leaping tumbling running
And I know I can never do that, can never be that light
That free, that precise…
Clumsiness personified, and yet
Already grown and hope long abandoned
I began to dance.
Joy replaced success, and one day someone said to me:
“You are so graceful” and I choked on my coffee
It still seems surreal when I’m stumbling, bumbling along,
But when the music calls to my cells
“Come out to play, come make something beautiful with us”
My breath moves in rhythm,
And I forget about being ungainly and shy,
Forget to stop myself, forget to be ashamed of who I am
And for a time I can be happy.
When I close my eyes I feel a thousand pounds
I look at my body and can barely recognize it as human
Some days; I avoid mirrors and windows
Tight clothes, small spaces
I want to laugh with a deranged hysteria, panic,
When someone describes me as small –
“Short” I say, “I’m short and round like a tomato”
They laugh, thinking I’m being silly
But I feel it every day
This mass of broken flesh, damaged and old
Heavy and clumsy – this is the body I inhabit.
Wherefore comes the rash conceit that I could ever
Haul this form up and over a fence, throw it into the air and
Not fall immediately to the ground?
Because somewhere there is a disconnect: there are spaces
Little spaces, where somehow I, giant Me, can fit easily.
Little branches, which somehow support my weight.
How is this possible?
There must be something askew
Between how I see myself and how I physically inhabit the world,
Between the space I think I take up and the space I do.
And in that gap, that incomprehensible crevice of doubt
That if I could bring my awareness in line with my true form,
If I push myself, and work hard,
Eat less and move more,
Touch the Joy and let it take me over, unseating shame,
The way it does when I dance,
Maybe even I could learn how to fly.