Let us praise now
this one woman’s body, how
it crackles and jerks, more lumber
than stride, how these two upper arms sling
pounds of loose flesh, how this face decades past
puberty and years past periods still sprouts pimples and
blackheads and little red dots that seem to have no names of
their own. How the weight it carries keeps her face full and soft and smooth,
so few wrinkles beyond the worry furrows of a forehead inherited from her father how years
of honorable dyke laughing have insured against lines from frowns yielded as weapons by
those women who forced fake smiles at the hest of imperious men.
Let us now praise praise because praise
is the hardest-won right.
Let us praise now these calves in their cellulite glory, these fingers so slight they startle, these toes, one bent already by arthritis and both littlest ones crooked from speeding
on roller skates or bikes, these thin blue veins exposed and throbbing
at the wrists, this mole at base of the back of the right hand,
this mole every doctor has wanted to remove,
this mole from which I learned to defend my body
as it is from those who pry and cut, this mole
without I would not know
left from right.
Can you praise that which you do not love? Can you build a gateway
of praise and throw open wide its doors? Can you build of a desire to praise even when
you cannot yet praise a courtyard whose hard-packed earth glistens with the shining
of Wissahickon schist?
Let us now praise this woman’s body because the wisdom
of this woman’s body knows how to live with dirt for a floor and knows how
to open gates and knows how to live as if worthy of praise, as if praise
were a birthright and not a commandment.