Tag Archives: perception

Self Portrait

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Should I focus on my size?
My eyes or hair?
How I’m shaped like a rectangle?
Bones sturdy enough to pull a plough.
Strong, straight legs bookending knees of butter.
Two feet with ten toes and sufficient arches.
My glorious, murderer’s thumbs living in the shadow
of fingers with knuckles undamaged
despite a childhood cracking habit
that my mother swore would transform
my capable hands to gnarly claws.
According to a CT scan, all my organs rest rightly.
Nothing extra. Nothing missing. Nothing out-of-place.
My brain and spine are not so pristine. A tad lacy,
but not ostentatiously so.
In recent years, my hair and I have reached an accord.
I let the curls reign unchecked.
My skin is creamy and pink except where
slashed with scars, large and small.
I smile with my whole face.
The blue and sometimes green of my eyes
gets swallowed when I laugh.
What I like the most about myself is my shoulders.
They carry everything,
even when I’m certain they can’t.

NaPoWriMo Day 25

Tralfamadorian Theory

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In his mid-60s,
the Parkinson’s disease
my father developed in his early 40s
forced him to move to a nursing home.

He’d been an active man:
marathon runner, bike rider,
weight lifter, hunter,
scuba diving professional.

Instead of boundless skies,
his view became a stained ceiling.
Instead of racing ahead in life,
he now wobbled unsteadily with a walker.

The facility staff saw before them
a frail, nearly immobile man.
His life only as big
as his six by ten foot room.

So I dug his boxes out of storage
and gathered every slide and photograph I could find,
scanned and loaded them in his computer, and
set the screen saver to default to those photo files.

There was my dad crossing the finish line at a race.
Him, age 3, in a sandbox with his older brother.
My father captured holding his granddaughter close.
A line of very dead ducks at his feet with dad lofting a rifle.

He could see the pictures flicker by from his bed
and talk to anyone entering the room
about times like when he dove under the ice
without attaching a safety line, but somehow survived.

There he was with two of his brothers,
dirt bikes nearby as they stood
shoulder to shoulder, grinning,
in some remote woodlands in Oregon.

Image after image of him outdoors
rolled past — in forests, on beaches, in boats,
on open prairie land. To be well,
my dad needed pine trees as much as dopamine.

He wasn’t defined by how his life ended,
but how his vitality and determination persisted.
He was as much eternally the sandy 3-year-old
as he was an older man battling death.

His life best understood as random flickers,
In no particular order. Equally weighted.
I help him move from bed to chair.
He lifts me to his shoulder, carries me to the trees.

NaPoWriMo Day 10

commuter

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spitting fire
she dropped to the bus seat
surprised the driver stopped
and opened the door
let her enter
the crowded public transportation
covered as she was in flames

no one even gave her
or her inferno
a second glance
she was ready if they did
sharp retort loaded
all she needed was an aim
someone to set ablaze

how could they not see
she was a pyre
cloaked in grey business drab
gripping a paper cup
purse slung like a bandoleer
stiletto heels a calculation
her life completely flammable

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Julie Ayers
NaPoWriMo Day 6

Inventory

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I accepted I would transform as I age,
crave the symphony over indie
and alternative rock concerts,
that my preferences for
edgy boots or sparkly tennis shoes,
funky skirts and dangly earrings,
would abate.
The stealthy yearning to tattoo coat
my body should evaporate.

All my childish loves –
consuming novels like tea,
incredulous regard of
leaves and bark,
painting nails darkly,
earnestly pinning words down –
would spin away.

Along with my shape bleeding out,
every line softening
with the passage,
my features mothering over,
I would molt the youthful desires.

A turn to pudding,
bowls lined up neatly in the fridge,
saran-wrapped and
ready for clean spoons.
Everything easily digestible.

The reliable, hard-working,
and unfaltering,
must look and feel different
than how I floated
softly in skin still malleable.

I had failed to notice
my existing penchant for
studiousness,
unbroken employment,
thrift,
my habit of promptly paying
bills in full,
being where I said I’d be
on time and ready,
paired just as surely
with jeans as pinstriped suits,
with Neko Case as Mozart.

Although I am transformed
by years,
I am still.

 

March 2014
Julie Ayers