For Lidia, Portland OR, March 27, 2016
5th grade: I am not a gymnast but I want to be. I want to be the girl that sings through the air or the goddamn monkey bars in front of everyone and reveals only, and only if they/her/we are lucky, a tiny sliver of taut skin as she flips and grins and walks away. Or the girl who runs the six hundred yard dash without stopping or tasting peppermint saliva, fighting vomit and the new smell under her arms. In the lot across from our townhouse I wait until I am alone, bite my tongue, will myself forward and over, crotch to metal, a broken line of rust in my panties before time, before years, before bleeding. I am determined to learn, take classes after school, practice and practice and practice a floor routine, then balance beam. My wider body, solid in effort, lacks grace, hopes if not for promise, then hope of promise. I choose music, Leo Sayer, I make myself feel like dancing when I manage finally to somersault, keep slapping chalk on my palms and thighs like an athlete, chalk so much lighter and whiter than the resin I use on my violin bow at home, this dust more athletic, the dancing motes between claps a symphony of popularity, all imaginable success. I am eleven. The music starts, I jump on the beam and waver, fall, shatter my thumb and wrist, radius and ulna. I am fractured and swollen. The only ice there is ice cream from the school freezer, I still hate the taste of vanilla.
16: I am so proud of this. I can undo a zipper with my teeth, pop a beer tab or 501 button with my jaw, make anyone hard, take the last line of “She’s So Cold” to heart, I can make a dead man cum, my hands, wrists so fast and slick and braceleted, like a blues musician in full flow, my boyfriend’s hands on the stick shift that later will jam into my side, a bruise I wear like a blue ribbon. I am chrome fuel injected and stepping out over the line. I can move these hands and wrists and lips over anyone I choose, stay up all night reading The Mists of Avalon, recognizing the goddess flow in that story in me, I get to choose. My fingers ache from journaling and touching, apples, dogs, boys, books, nothing is safe from my hunger because I am choosing. I am choosing into danger because I like it and I am choosing choosing choosing, unstoppable.
46: I am solid muscle but sore, hands okay, fingers ring less, wrists swelling from too much yoga in too few days, but I will master this. Chataranga, upward dog, downward dog, Warrior 1, warrior 2, hold plank until something gives, scaphoid bone, located near the base of the left thumb, still twisted from the fall in 5th grade. I drop to my forearms and keep holding, sleep with braces on my wrists, will prevail. Tourist dust on the floor past my cheap mat, like all the chalk in older days, unscrewing bottle after bottle of Advil and Nicorette mini lozenges, the only things I can do to make myself better for now, ice at home but not in Mexico, not in my friend’s room where I sleep without a bed because I couldn’t afford I to book one, the waves are filled with a thousand flecks of gold dust and keep rolling. My fingers try not to move as they type, have to type to keep the kids fed and in college, wrapping cold cloth after cold cloth around wrists, securing with clothes pins. The placement and creases, the ridges of skin that stay put when pinched, the emails going and then the resting. I take breaks. I am okay.