Sunday, June 17, 2012

If I have a story

If I have a story, I have to turn off my phone.
I have to ignore the fact that I am sitting imperfectly,
That my bladder is not completely empty,
That I could be blowing my nose.

I have to ignore the fact that the temperature isn’t quite right and I am forced to live in a moment
Where a sweater is too warm but my tank top doesn’t quite protect me from the chaos I am so desperately trying to

It isn’t always easy. At least not for me. An awkward 25 year old woman trying to offer a unique awareness and getting someone to listen.

My mother has always been so much better at this. She commands it and smiles at me whenever I don’t get it quite right.

When I was younger she would read me stories, in Spanish. The words flowed out of her vocal chords as through a river, never once minding that I had no raft. No paddle with which to guide me except for the vibrations of her voice. Like a blind girl attempting to find where things were, I had to trust. It is only now that I realize how powerful she thought I was, even then, when I so desperately smeared her red lipstick on my face and tried to make my voice deeper because I wanted to claim something and I always thought I was too small to claim it.

She always thought I was strong. And when she read to me, she offered no paddle or apologies. I have to live up to that. When I write, I have to have something to say.

Never mind that other poets have said it better. Never mind that every corner of the world has been documented, classified, and raped with description. With words.

Perhaps this body has something to offer. Perhaps a little girl in a small township like Guguletoo will step into her mud hut and pull out my poem from inside her oversized sweater and read. Perhaps she’ll read the one about my first love, or my awkward attempts to get my father to be my hero. Perhaps she will have read these stories before and I’ll collect dust on some bookshelf in a home in the upper east side.

But at least I’ll have traveled. At least my body will have entered consciousness and there will be permanent documentation that somewhere, at some point, I succeeded in quieting the wild life that does not quiet, my bouncy curls that are never quite tame and exemplify the fact that I am visceral and made of dirt.

But maybe, just maybe, I can be powerful and survive off of that, until the next time
I have a story.

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