April 16, 2012

La Palabra: the Word is Woman


Backstage, I stepped between Jive Poetic and a woman.
Jive, a very tall, svelte black man, was upset and letting her know.
She , being Texan, didn't take to kindly to a black man stepping up on her.
But this is not a poem about race relations.

No, this is a poem ducks issues about race,
weaves around gender relations,
even blocks issues of regional pride and
jabs at my body
in constant flow.
This body seems a little different every day,
and as I watch the slow addition of gray hair crawl across my chest,
I know I'm not the same person, mentally, emotionally, or physically
as I was at eighteen.

So, it was with a huge degree of skepticism
that when my doctor suggested I try
and get back to the weight I was when I graduated from high school,
I queried, "Really?"
He cited some statistic about how most people are fully developed at eighteen
and their weight then is ideal.

My body has never been a statistic,
and I wasn't one at eighteen.
At eighteen, I was at the height I am now,
but weighed about 40 pounds less.
Yes, in the almost thirty years since I graduated,
I've added 40 pounds, about one and a third pound a year.
But most of that weight was added in my 30s,
when my weight would rocket up during late fall and winter,
then drop as spring turned into summer.

As my 40s approached, it no longer dropped,
and my weight hovered at where it is right now.
So in a sense, my weight, now, is not in constant flow,
but the hair that covers my chest keeps crawling,
such that I no longer have a cute line down the middle of my chest
but a mat, a carpet,
that seems to spread out like some slowly evolving inverted bowl and doily spider web,
and hairs that would range from brown to red,
now contain a smattering of gray as well.

I don't think I'm a big man,
yet I often chide my lover when she cooks to double the recipe
because the measurements don't seem to fill this beast of a machine
for more than just a little bit.
I find myself eating two meals to her one,
and sneaking away to recharge.
I'm not starving but have the appetite for more, always more.

So when Jive looked down on me, I think
he, in his anger, might've thought,
If this guy really puts his weight into some blow,
it's gonna hurt,
and he stepped back,
took a deep breath
and used his words not his body.

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