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When They Say Body

Poetry & Prose | February 6, 2017

When my momma says body, I think of eyes. I think of how she told me to keep myself covered, to keep eyes off of me. How her eyes bore sadness into mine when she saw my body changing. How her eyes became fire when my sister came home late at night in mini skirts. The eyes of her relatives scanning my face for a resemblance to my mother.

When my dad says body, I am 7-years-old on the couch, trying to get closer to him by watching television when he is watching. He loves watching National Geographic, how the cameras graze over landscapes like a journalist scans a crowd for news to tell. One time, he flips on the history channel instead to a documentary on the Rape of Nanking in 1937. How the black and white images of mutilated women’s bodies on the screen look like newspaper to me, bodies thrown and made old news.

His body becomes one that cannot connect brain and speech, he says nothing. Fears what he says “won’t change anything about the world,” so says nothing. Fears words cannot reach me. Does not fear that his arms never reach me.

Recently, when I hear what Donald Trump says about bodies, I think of hands. The hands of immigrants holding their heads as they sob. My aunts’ and uncles’ immigrant hands. Of my grandmother’s hands bearing jewelry she saved from what feels like a past lifetime—packrat hands. Hands with lines of memory. Hands shifting furniture and found goods around to make room for more. My grandmother always knew how to make space for more

Hands open, palms up, means welcoming. Means “I’ll keep it.” Means “I’ll take care of it.”

Hands raised means stop. Stop taking. Hands raised, resisting. Means “I won’t take this crap.” Means “my body is valuable.” Means “you don’t have a say in what my body means.” Hands raised, protecting. Protecting each other fiercely—­­­­now.

And trust me, you don’t want to catch these hands, Trump.