Saturday, May 17, 2014

Rise Over Run

When I was a kid, math time always made me cry.
I remember
crying at the kitchen table about x and y and
repeating six times seven is forty-two until
I didn’t have any more of a clue how to get to six times eight
but six times seven is something I never forgot
and I remember
squaring roots and finding decimals and looking for the sine
hoping it would signal me with what to do next
and the x and y were supposed to make
the slope on the graph of the paper with the little squares
but all I could see was how I could make
an amazing mosaic
if only I could use my colored pencils.

But nothing about me was ever square.
If you get to the root of me you’ll see
I’ve never been black and white
always lilac or magenta
or forest green with a lavender hue
that fades into a sunrise like a memory about to happen.
The words I speak could be
the best memory you’ve ever had but
if 42 is the answer to the universe I
memorized the answer without a clue how I got there
and I’m sure it involved
addition or division or
the mean of the range of something which cannot be said
so a random number was used instead.

And I remember
my father lamenting:
“Sweetie, it’s just rise over run.”
But the only rising I cared about was the rising of the sun.
The only run I wanted to find
was the running creek behind my house,
the wind's fingers running through my hair,
and I didn’t need math to learn
the slope from “I don’t understand” to
“look how stupid I am” was a steep one.
If I could use my colored pencils I’d draw you
the slip ‘n’ slide on the side of the mountain so steep
numbers are the last thing you need
to know which way you’ll fall.

And I remember writing lists
of how I could be better
do better
look better
seem better
even though the distance between Me and Perfect
was the only thing I knew how to measure.
So I kept rising and running
hoping I’d run into the perfection I ached to find,
but ran until I could neither rise nor run
so I laid in the valley praying
the shadow of the slope above me
would hide me in her shade.

But I kept rising and running
spending too long trying to find
my smile in the powders and brushes,
trying to find a body in the clothing I used to hide
from love I thought wasn’t mine.
I stormed from the bathroom, late for the day
angry that love was always subtracted and divided
but never multiplied or added.

So I went for a walk in the rain.
Felt the thunder in my chest
knowing I gave away my umbrella long ago
when I thought I could be protected
and I remembered
that when you multiply a negative by a negative
you get a positive
so Me times Rain, I thought,
might be my only way up.

And I remember
letting the rain undress me so I
could catch a rare glimpse
of the beautiful face
I didn’t know I had.

I paused, then doubted if it could be true, but I
let myself climb up the number line of momentary self-worth
and wondered what this thought would feel like
if I rocked it in the middle of the night.

This, I thought,
is the poetry of my body and
I remember
making a promise that one day
it will all add up
and I’ll run to embrace my heart for where it’s been
and rise
to be who I truly am.

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