Yesterday, in my monthly Soul Writer's Circle, we were asked to write a poem about embodiment. One prompt invited us to weave a scientific fact about the body with a story about the body.
I remembered a statistic I'd heard, how our bodies are mostly not ours: we can only claim 15% as 'us.' That got me wondering.
And I remembered something Nathalie Roy, co-founder of The Orphan Wisdom School, wrote to me about becoming older: how, as her body changed and morphed with age, she was being welcomed home by her old ones.
In a culture that fights ageing and that values independence, her words brought me to tears - how often do we try to not be like our families and ancestors? If we could only invite the ageing process as homecoming, as belonging - not something we should (or can) eradicate, temper, or control.
Ever since, that has been my wish for my body: may each change of age or illness, of use or misuse, each place of aversion or shame soften, and bring me home.
Most of our bodies are not our own –
the flora in the gut, the mites on our skin.
Our mother's hands, our father's smile.
Only fifteen percent can we claim and call, “I.”
We, a kitchen sink casserole:
we've cleaned out the fridge and
have assembled a delicious meal.
How many times have I
bemoaned the dish of myself?
Did I praise my father's broad shoulders
Or spend decades trying to hide them?
I remember the day I looked down
and saw the legs of my great Aunts,
not my own:
Cracked heels, sagging skin.
Veins beginning their inner throb
bulging blue across my feet.
I was fascinated and horrified –
like tasting an exotic meal
I wasn't yet sure I liked.
It's taken years to become familiar
with this new taste of myself:
for the disgust to turn to savor,
for the savor to turn to wonder,
for the wonder to crack my fear,
to welcome their bodies into my body,
to sip this new communion.