I want to sing a song to my body and direct it to the parts that ache; its melody seeking out the places inside of me that creak and groan, that shift and shiver, that have gone so long untouched for not being recognized, for not being held in love.
I want to seek out the crook of my own arm, and trace its fine hairs. Whisper to it gently, lauding it for the other bodies it’s held in its protective cradle: the babies, the boys, the sisters, the men, the parents, the grandparents, the generations, the dreams.
I want to sing a song to my body, because its story requires rhythm and pitch; it deserves depth and sound and heart and compassion. My body has had words and poetry and letters and sentences, but it’s never had a melody that sings sweetly, proudly, loudly, its name.
Like the wise women before me, I’ll sing a song that sheds tears, that’s part wailing, part ululation, part screeching, part whisper, part groan. To purge my body of the burden it’s carried, the suffering I’ve caused it, they’ve caused it, “we” have caused it.
I hold myself in this song, suspended in time, the sound a bubble, a blanket, a shield. And within its vibration, my body returns to a child’s curled up curve. My back finds its elasticity again. My arms wrap in around my knees. My heart bumps and collides and beats against my rib cage, against my elbows, against my shins.
Sound leaps out of me, cleansing me as a humming, echoing river. A chant rolls out from my belly through my throat, clinking past my teeth so I can taste the reverberating harmony. This hymn cleans and soothes the angry, wounded welts left by the harsh lashes of judgment.
“You’re putting on a little weight.
Aren’t those jeans a bit too tight?
It’s so unappealing, how your belly, thighs, arms jiggle as you run, walk, dance.
The strength of my sound, the power of my will, cancels out these words, erases the marks they leave on my body, on our bodies, on our girl children’s bodies. And instead, music surrounds my belly, round and soft. Melody wraps around my thighs, wide and strong. Harmony floats over the striped skin that’s raised up from the passing of time, loving these marks that tell me I have been stretched by the fullness of life.
I sing to myself all the words I hang on, waiting, for others to say, as if they were crumbs on which I might barely survive.
You are beautiful.
You are brave.
You are strong.
You are loved.
You are love.
And with this song, each “flaw” morphs into perfection, becomes the revered ship on which my life has sailed – its cracks, its peeling paint, its weather worn bow becoming testaments to the dreams I’ve carried, the challenges I’ve overcome, the lives that have sailed on me, through me, and over me, safely to land.
Riding on these waves of sound that flood out like a banquet of abundance, my body floats and rests upon the warm, honeyed, flowering, glistening, dew-dropped nectar of praise, love and acceptance that I give to myself. That I pass on to you. That “we,” with our voices and sound, can pass on to others.
This song of praise.
This song of acceptance.
This song of love for our bodies.
Photo: Pixoto/Shawnessy Ransom