I’ve always tried to put it into words. I couldn’t.
I’m unsure if it’s because I felt that I was too strong to say it or because I couldn’t identify it. How can you identify something you’ve never been given? Lovers would ask me what was missing and it would sit on the tip of my tongue, but it would never come.
The other day, someone who I’ve been exchanging pleasantries with, asked me what was missing from the love I’ve lost.
I sputtered something stupid, “Being held from behind.”
He laughed, “What?”
“Um…I’ve never been held from behind.”
“That’s random. Why do you think that is?”
“I don’t know. Maybe it’s because I’m too tall, or too thick, or not vulnerable, or perhaps men just don’t think I need to be held in that way. They don’t see me as fragile.”
Fragile. This is the word. It was out now.
Okay, I’m lying. A little bit.
One man tried to hold me from behind. Once. We were standing in front of the Liberty Bell and I suddenly saw his hands in front of me. I realized he was about to hold me in this way and I kind of freaked. I moved to the side, smiled at him, and placed a kiss on his cheek. I could tell that he was a tad bit confused, but I knew the moment would be a memory soon for him. However, it was never one for me. Why did I freak out?
Because I’d never been handled with care.
It was awkward to me, because I’d never been with anyone who considered me something/someone to be careful with.
I did not see myself as fragile.
I wasn’t treated as such.
There is something about a touch, a grasp, or a whisper that can remind you of your femininity. I’ve watched the dance happen between friends and their lovers, particularly those that are pink, petite, small, or wincing. Men swoop their arms down, cater to their every whim.
I want to be handled delicately.
I couldn’t say it to the men who claimed to love me, but I knew there was something missing.
At 5’11, 190 pounds, and at the top of your game you reek of strength and solidity. My voice is deeper than most women and I perform poems on stages, in front of huge crowds. The more lovers learn about the things I’ve done and my feats, the less I’m handled like I could be broken.
But even bulletproof glass cracks, weathers, and fades.
I am this; but I am delicate too.
My spine is sometimes melted, when all is wrong in my world, and sometimes I yearn for strong arms to replace it.
When all is quiet and the tapping of my keyboard is the only sound, I yearn for someone to ask: How was your day?
I sit at dinner tables and wait for men to hold my hand and caress it slowly, tell me compliments that everyone wants to hear. They are sure I’ve been told this several times, so they stay silent.
& so I handle myself delicately.
I buy myself flowers.
I take long, warm baths.
I have a sign above my mirror that says “You are beautiful, Erica.”
I kiss my arms, before I fall asleep.
I tell the moon goodnight.
I write poems about the beauty that happens in my day.
Although I am mighty I’ve learned that I’m fragile too. I learned that I no longer want to live and love, as if I’m not. I will demand it of anyone who comes calling and all those who want my attention.
I want to be vulnerable too.
I have never felt freer than the moments where my heart is lying open and scattered on a table. He sits across from me and pretends that all the contents of our happenings aren’t there, but there’s no denying it. He will either pick them up or leave them there, but I’d rather that than not knowing at all. I’d rather that than being a bottle praying to fizz over, for someone who realizes you are worth shaking alive.
I am learning these things.
In the inaudible.
In women’s eyes.
In my echoing womb.
In the passing years.
I want someone to whisper…
no screw that….
I’ll whisper it to you:
You are fragile too. Mountains crack, oceans divide, and the earth erodes. Everything tied and bound, eventually breaks. Love yourself this way. Know that you are capable of falling, but rising too. Know that you are dusk, but sun is around the corner. Prepare yourself for triumph, but allow yourself to shatter too.