tree women

This poem was written at the ATI conference in Seattle, 2017. It is dedicated to Rachel Prabhakar, Debi Adams, Lisa Sailer and all my AT tree women.

woman
for a long time i felt like my legs were cut off
rootless
i didn’t know what i stood for

i had this nervous sway motion
avoiding balance
perpetual fight or flight
since
since
since

he took my feet from me
i thought it was something else
i thought it was what everyone said it was
but it was my feet

cut something off just below the waist
severed
disconnected
clear cut
loose nerve endings frayed
too green to know what i’d lost
my roots not yet deep enough

years
rings upon rings
lost
etched in the sky
like smoke rings

my feet
swaying just off the surface
lazy balloon strings
feeling for a place to land
ghostlike
hovering
dandelion seeds tossed in the wind
searching for home

then

women
women
women like trees
with arms like branches
and legs like pillars
welcome me

as though they’d been waiting there all along
rooted
still
smiling
ready

what i received from them they did not lose
they knew in abundance
offered
at no cost

she put her hands on my feet
and stayed
and listened
and waited
and stayed
and stayed
and waited
until I felt my roots again

tingling
new born
sudden suction gasping for air
underground spindles
pulses of life passing through
like a beacon light on and off
searching for the landing place

reintegrating
gently
she: sending energy up through my roots
warm green sun soaked vitality
filled with everything she knew
from before and now
and everything they knew before her
and before her
and before her
and before her
and her
and her
and her
and her
and her

and i feel myself like a tree trunk
and all the other trees that came before
and i feel her legs through the earth
and i feel my legs again
and i feel my roots
and i reach through them
and i feel all the other roots
of all the other women
the women trees
and i feel safe
and i never knew what safe was before
and i never knew what trees were before
and i never knew what women were before
and i never knew what family was before
and i never knew what home felt like
in my legs
and i know now

i know now

i am a tree woman now

and i put my hands on my sisters
and we remind each other
of who we are
and of where home is

deep below

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