I Sing the Body Electric - Andrea Gibson

This is my body
I have weather veins
They’re especially sensitive to dust storms and hurricanes
When I’m nervous, my teeth chatter like a wheelbarrow collecting rain
I am rusty when I talk - it is the storm in me.

The doctor said some day I might not be able to walk
It’s in my blood like the iron
My mother is as tough as nails, she held herself together
The day she could no longer hold my niece, she said,
"Our kneecaps are our prayer beds;
Everyone can walk farther on their kneecaps than they can on their feet."

This is my heartbeat
Like yours, it is a hatchet
It can build a house, or tear one down.

My mouth is a fire escape
The words coming out don’t care that they are naked
There is something burning in here.

When it burns, I hold my own shell to my ear
Listen for the parade when I was seven
The man who played the bagpipes wore a skirt
He was from Scotland - I wanted to move there
Wanted my spine to be the spine of an unpublished book
My fate, the first and last page.

The day my rib cage became monkey bars
For a girl hanging on my every word
They said, "You are not allowed to love her."
Tried to take me by the throat and teach me I was not a boy.
I had to unlearn their prison speak
Refuse to make wishes on the star on the sheriff’s chest
I started wishes on the stars in the sky instead.

I said to the the sun,
"Tell me about the big bang."
The sun said,
"It hurts to become."

I carry that hurt on the tip of my tongue
And whisper, "Bless your heart." every chance I get
So my family tree can be sure I have not left.
You do not have to leave to arrive -
I am learning this slowly.

So sometimes when I look in the mirror
My eyes look like the holes in the shoe of the shoe-shine man
My hands are busy on the wrong things
Some days, I call my arms wings
While my head is in the clouds.

It will take me a few more years to learn
Flying is not pushing away the ground
Safety is not always safe;
You can find one on every gun
I am aiming to do better.

This is my body
My exhaustion pipe will never pass inspection
And still my lungs know how to breathe
Like a burning map.

Every time I get lost behind the curtain of her hair
You can find me by the window
Following my past to a trail of blood
In the snow.

The night I opened my veins
The doctor who stitched me up asked me if I did it for attention
For the record,
If you have ever done anything for attention
This poem is attention; title it with your name.

It will scour the city bridge every night
You stand kicking at your shadow
Staring at the river
It does not want to find your body
Doing anything but loving what it loves
So love what you love.

Say, "This is my body. It is no one's but mine.
This is my nervous system
My wanting blood, my half-tamed addictions
My tongue, tied up like a ball of Christmas lights
If you put a star on the top of my tree,
Make sure it’s a star that fell
Make sure it hit bottom like a tambourine
'Cause all these words are stories."

For the staircase to the top of my lungs
Where I sing what hurts and the echo comes back
Bless your heart, bless your body
Bless your holy kneecaps. They are so smart
You are so full of rain, there is so much growing
Hallelujah to your weather veins
Hallelujah to the ache
To the pull, to the fall, to the pain
Hallelujah to the grace and the body
And every cell of us all.

I Carry Your Heart with Me - E. E. Cummings

Wild Geese - Mary Oliver