Saturday, February 12, 2011

The One With The Collar, Part 5

(Parts I, II, III, IV)

It acts like love -- music, and
tells the feet, "You do not have to be so burdened."

My body is covered with wounds
this world made...

Rabia al Basri*

I do my stretches.
I do my exercises.
I go to my appointments
twice a week
to be stretched,
to have unused mucles
broken down
into living flesh again.

I stretch my arms up,
"wall angels," they are called,
I stretch my arms up,
tendons pop over bone,
so unused to living this way.

She -- you know, She --
has felt so far away
for so long.
My connection to Her
feels atrophied
like these muscles
that only remember
how to huddle down hunched
in fear.
"I'll get up," I said to the cop,
"please don't hurt me."
And I got up.  But my body
only remembers huddling
hunched against the
psychic and physical blows
landing around me.

I stretch up,
breathe through the pain.
Tendons pop,
and suddenly Her voice,
"Dear one, I am teaching you,
you do not have to live huddled
and hunched anymore.  Stretch up.
You do not have to be
so burdened.  Stretch up.
I am teaching you, beloved,
to live in these muscles again,
these muscles atrophied
in despair.  Stretch up.

You feel I have been absent,
She says, but I have been here,
under these hopeless muscles,
getting you ready, strengthening you,
beautiful one of such courage.

Stretch, reach
for Me, for who you are
to be now,
that people already see,
but you, trudging on your knees
thinking you have to
be good,
have not yet seen.

Stretch up! She says,
you are not this pain.
You are not the pain
they inflicted on you.
are Mine."

I stretch.
The muscles, they are sore,
but I keep stretching.
I keep showing up
so the doctor can
crack me open
and the despair can flow out.
I stretch, I grow stronger,
and the next time,
the next time
I step out of my place
and sit down in the street,

I will not be the same.

*Full poem by Rabia is here; interestingly, I posted it almost exactly one year ago today.