How I Bleed – A Poem

I want to talk about my body for a minute


I want to talk about my body for 1 435 840 minutes. That’s how many minutes I’ve bled. So far.

Let me talk about hating my body. About feeling born into a carcass and waiting for it to just fall over and stop—finally.

I have told my body that if I had enough money, and if surgery left scars no worse than the ones I gave myself, that “there’s nothing about you I wouldn’t change.” No part of me was safe from this generous self-loathing.

I have weighed twice me and half me. I starved my body to punish it for crimes never committed, and stuffed it to feel apart from thoughts originating outside my own mind.

I have wielded weapons against myself that seem so innocent on my bookshelf, secrets that made a liar of me, that made a storyteller of me, that made a canvas of that carcass for daring to continue to pump blood.

In sixth grade I was told women bleed a tablespoon of blood every month. I’d been bleeding for four years by then (yes) and I knew that was a lie: my blood could not be contained let alone measured. I waited patiently for the next first girl to say she got her period so I could stop feeling like I was so fucking odd. Not a tablespoon, not a swimming pool; I collected my blood by the chalice and I have a bachelors degree in menstruating.

I have no adam’s apple but I am not Eve, I am not born of a man’s body, not his rib, not his unimaginative mind. I am born of a Womyn who created Man, and that is not a metaphor, we are the universe. Herself.

My brother complained about my hairy legs but by now I am used to excelling against him. My father said he did not want to see that—that to which his own genes contributed. Why so proud of my mind, as if I did not cultivate that myself, and ashamed of my body, the fault for which lies half with him?

My body is a story that I once hated to tell.

My shoulders closed forward to hide my breasts. They made a woman of me when I had no self-defense. My eyes learned the ground because when I met His eyes, they were feasting. I told lies worse than the truth so no one would guess. I pushed love away until only I was left. I hurt myself the worst to show who was boss because I couldn’t control everyone I lost.

Not even me.

Now I am loud, She’s granted me strength to roar. I falter and fail and She encourages more.

My body is the conduit for my voice, low and clear. A threat, and I can follow through, a confession no worse than yours, a poem, a scream.

On my atlas is stretchmarks, loose skin and scars. I draw lines between my glitches like maps through the stars. What once I would have cut from me, I caress with forgiveness—I may not be more for all this but know I am no less.
I bleed but I am not wounded, I do not stagger or limp, I am no prey. But I do pray—with cold hands pressed against my aching abdomen I pray monthly for an immaculate hysterectomy.

Then one day

Or maybe a hundred days or most likely a thousand and counting—but that we can count them at all is meaningful—I decided to stop. To stop blaming my body for realities men decided were faults. To stop living in my skin like I could shed it if I cut deep enough. To stop being hungry and start being full. Whole.

I decided if I wanted to be loved I should set a good example

And if I wanted to be happy I should start by laughing at myself. At my ridiculousness and ephemerality. At my sheer gall to disown my only shelter, to try to run from my own two legs.

My hatred for myself once stopped me from falling in love.

But I have never not been perfect.


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