On Wednesday, I traveled to Guilford College in Greensboro, North Carolina to give a talk on some of the things that I learned while writing Hijas Americanas. It is always good to be back on a college campus, engaging in thoughtful discussion with young people who really understand that if they engage their bright, vibrant minds, the possibilities are endless. My favorite question of the night came from a young man who asked ‘what can we– as men– do’? Even right now, as I am writing this, I am tearing up in memory of his earnestness. If we remain vigilant, we can do so much in creating a better world– not just in terms of body image but in terms of justice and peace and progress. Anyway, being on campus and watching young lives walk to class, sprint across the lacrosse field, sit whispering to one another under a tree, I was reminded of a poem that I wrote when I was in college and feeling protective of the women around me. It is the poem– the concept– that inspired the Note to Self category on this blog. I pulled it out today and let my lips form around these words of clarity, defiance, confidence. Now, I look at it, almost startled at how my life has evolved– that I wrote these words more than ten years ago, wanting to help the women around me– and me– understand that we did not have to exist in some box of someone else’s making. These words were an anthem to me then, grounding me. Today, they are my offering.
Note to Self
Register that it doesn’t matter
whether or not you weigh a buck ten
whether or not he says “I Love You”
whether or not you hear his voice immediately,
eventually, or to hell with ever seeing him again.
Forget about your dress from three years ago–
your finest silver sheath
whose straps he fingered lightly
on its way off of you– collecting dust,
teasing you to squeeze into it for one last fling.
Shrug at the last fling you had in it
and how you came up for air
not from satisfaction
It ate at your soul–
a sickening, shaking, deep hunger–
for weeks afterwards
though you stuffed yourself
with the usual offerings–
eyeing the women on Diego Rivera’s canvases
each so pure
it made you forget that he was a bastard
for days in order to purge the experience.
Surrender yourself from these games–
white flag crisp and clear.