a man once told me,
if only you were smaller
i could love you — more, perhaps, if there was less
and if only i had seen
in all the wrong places, and
there was to him, and his love,
i would not
but i was young, and i was soft
in all the right places, and
so i took every one of his words,
and i wallpapered my thighs,
and my hips, and my breasts, and my soul, until i was completely hidden, and it was the 6th day and it was still dark.
and later, others came, and said
you are too tall, and
i cannot see myself
when i am next to you,
and can’t you see that there has to be less of you and more of me, for the bible tells you so,
until they grew thicker — the layers — until they were walls.
and all i knew was how to live smaller, but never small enough.
until one night i heard my body weep, a year ago, or forty, or it might have been in the beginning when blame fell like blood on the first woman’s shoulders, and i said, no more.
no more will i carry this, and you had better look out, i am here now, and i will throw down this weight, and in the dark i ran my hands over my arms and my legs, and my hair and my toes. and i felt all the things that were stuck there, their hate and mine.
stuck, in all my softness, and i felt my belly — this ripe, round, roof, over this holy space within me that grew a whole child, and you dare say that i am not enough? and i said thank you for this — this life, and for his — this fresh, new life and i said thank you to my heart for beating, and beating, and beating, and never giving up on me,
despite my trying.
and i whispered love to my lungs for the breath, always the breath, that i now find in sacred stretches, and other holy places in the back of my eyes, where they could never, ever see, and i felt my breasts — full of beauty that gave life to a child, and they are not here for your amusement, and neither am i, and i have had enough.
and i ran my fingers over my skin, and my bones, and my past, and my hopes, and i unhooked every thing there — every word and everyone, until there was only
here, in the light, and it is good.
— woman, unhooked.
© Liezel Graham 2019.
Photograph by Kourosh Qaffari.