soulcycle.

We're sitting on a ledge and drinking out of cups that feel funny in my hands. The glass has molded to someone else's fingers-- her dna has integrated itself deep into the fibers where no amount of dish soap or jet dry can ever erase it.

This space is not Ours, it's just a loan. Our feet dangle above a city that moves and breathes and turns and sizzles while we sit here, sipping, sipping, whispering. 

This city is not Ours, it's just a loan. I'm looking down, sandals dangling half-off my feet, watching tiny glowing beads of sweat that get caught in my curls and

drip

down

to the thirsty pavement below. I exist there, molecules loose and liquid for mere moments before I'm dried up and released back into the air. My own particles fly past the fire hydrant, the stop sign, the ledge, the glass that feels funny in my hands, past my own eyebrows and sweaty curls, past the treetops and roof decks and penthouses into the sky where I will wait to be turned back into water.

Where I will wait until I fall like rain.

 

On feminism.

I am present in this moment:

twenty-nine,

trauma survivor,

my own corpse’s reviver:

my story is, if nothing else,

my own.

 

I float here suspended by:

things I could write or

rewrite,

gender-swap,

cluster-fuck,

“monologue,

memory,

rant,

pray,”

subvert,

pervert,

perfect—

until I see myself reflected there,

a little glimmer of something

that hasn’t yet been claimed.

 

“I am a feminist,”

Maya Angelou said

“I’ve been female for a long time

and it’d be stupid not to be on my own side,”

(it lives in my sternum, hard and fast)

 

“We cannot succeed,”

Malala Yousafzai-- at once years younger and

centuries older than I am-- said,

“we cannot succeed when half of us are held back.”

(it lives under my fingernails, in between my toes)

 

“I am not free,”

Audre Lorde (curling herself around my spinal cord,)

“I am not free while any woman is unfree,

even when her shackles are different from my own.”

 

It presses against my heart.

 

With gratitude, I am at once pious and indulgent,

letting my body be female and

human and

alive.

 

With gratitude, I thank the sisters that came before me for this honor

for this right

for wave after

wave after

wave after

wave after

wave of progress:

 

“Be nobody’s darling,”

Alice Walker said,

(behind my eyelids, at the nape of my neck,)

“take the contradictions of your life and wrap them around you like a shawl.”

 

“You do not have to be good!”

Mary Oliver reminds me,

(soothing mystomach, unclenching my fists)

“You do not have to walk on your knees

For a hundred miles through the desert, repenting.

You only have to let the soft animal of your body

Love what it loves.”

 

It presses against my heart.

 

I wade in the tides these women have weathered,

the ebbs and flows,

times of plenty and of naught,

bodies battered

statistics shattered

phases of the moon under which they’ve hissed and

howled and

harangued,

uterine blood shed

month after month

year after year

creating

and carving

and careening toward

this space on the sidewalk

where I stand,

present.

 

This space that, over eons,

has been made for me,

a space that allows me to have so much to say

and so many ways to say it

that I hardly know where to begin.

 

It presses against my heart.