Shortly after my husband woke up, my body began to whisper, urgently: slow down, slow down. I heard it. I acknowledged that it had spoken. Then I ignored it. We went to the Farmer's Market, like we do every Saturday, and I asked my son: stroller or walk? He chose walk, which meant run, and so while my husband poked and prodded the produce and purchased our weekly supply of staples, I morphed from mother to coach (which is especially amusing considering if sports in their entirety disappeared from the face of the earth overnight, it might well be years before I noticed).
Eyes ahead! Watch for people! Follow the white lines! Okay, slow it down! No crashing the people! NO CRASHING THE PEOPLE!!! We're working on this incredibly specialized sport-specific skill called watching where you're going. It's handy when sprinting. He's not quite there yet. The Saturday Farmer's Market is like a grueling battle against a particularly tough team of rivals. Multiple times, in order to avoid certain collision, I was required to intervene by tossing my little speed racer up onto my shoulders and containing him there until we passed through a danger zone.
We got in the car to come home, and my body was no longer whispering. It fairly shrieked: STOP already! I listened, mostly. There was lunchtime to get through, and naptime for the boy, and then I napped. And woke up with a soreness more suited to a player the day after a bruising game of tackle football than the fat bellied coach I'd spent the morning impersonating. I tried to relax in the evening, I really did, but after sitting with the television on for two hours and another hour to go until the little one's bedtime I could stand it no longer. We went out for a walk in the dark. Up the hill, and down the hill, and up the hill and down the hill, and this is the only way to walk in my neighborhood because we live on a hill. And have I mentioned how steep that bad boy is?
I am sore, and hurting, and still smarting at the truth of the lecture my husband gave me when I got back inside and collapsed on the couch, about how I have to slow it down, and how I shouldn't be lifting my boy so much. He's not the first person to tell me this and I. do. not. want. to. hear. it. Yes, my shoulders are burning, and my back is throbbing, and I am busy being a stubborn, bitter bitch about it. You can see how well my yoga instructor skills are serving me now. Breathe in, breathe out. Consider being slightly less of a stubborn, bitter bitch, why don't you? Good, good. That's the direction in which we need to move, dear.
Below is a poem. I didn't write it today. Oh, most certainly not. I wrote it a number of years ago. But I probably need to read it today. Perhaps I need to read it a few times over, repeating lines like an incantation, reminding myself that life is long, and my body is a gift, like my children, including the child my body is so kindly carrying. And like children who whisper, and are ignored, it will eventually shriek to get my attention. I would not ignore my children until they were forced to shriek. I should offer the same courtesy to myself. And so I will fight the fire in my shoulders and spine, not with harsh words and recrimination, but with prayer and poetry. Oh, and biofreeze and an ice pack. Even prayer and poetry appreciate a little practical assistance every once in a while.
My body is
this whole world
is my body.
Limbs stretch out like rivers;
toe-ponds resting at the bottom of
my sand colored skin.
Breasts like mountains,
pink snow capping
An explorer looking down could see
a vast prairie of belly,
navel looping down like
a river whirlpool.
My callused heels
are old volcanoes
crusted over with lava,
now layers of igneous rock,
and my back is testy territory,
that fault line spine
running up it.
My thighs are tree trunks
in some ancient forest,
where the sun of love peeks through
to unfold a blossoming flower.
Waking is the shift of the earth’s plates
deep beneath the surface.
Sleeping is the ocean
on a windless night.
Orgasm an earthquake,
Death a gradual erosion of my soil.
Thank-you Lord for giving me this body.
Thank-you Lord for giving me this woman
that is me.