Little known fact: April is National Poetry Month.
Even lesser known fact: I started my writing career as a poet and had a double focus in graduate school on non-fiction and poetry. I love reading great poetry and find that writing a poem can be very good personal therapy. In fact, it was by writing poetry that I first began to reconcile my thoughts about body image, beauty perception, and ethnic identity. Eventually, my graduate school manuscript was a reflection of that evolution in me. Titled Giving Up Beauty, that manuscript told my coming of age story through the lens of identity reconciliation (via a collection of linked poems and essays). I never sought to publish that book– though it did inspire the idea for Hijas Americanas; for me, that book was meant as a capturing of my personal journey through those things. And so given that poetry was such a powerful tool in my body image, self-awareness, and self-acceptance journey and that is now National Poetry Month, this week’s Spark came to me pretty easily. Grab a pen, pencil, or computer screen and pound out a note to yourself that allows you to process an aspect of your own self-image, body image, or ethnic identity.
And to prove to you that it doesn’t have to be brilliant to be worthwhile to you, here’s my own Note to Self (although my college friends will quickly point out that my college years were not quite so sexy but, hey, poetry allows you some leeway) from those days where I wrote poetry in the margins of everything…
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
to love– for days in order to purge the experience.
Surrender yourself from these games–
white flag crisp and clear. Walk away.