my body remembers when it came apart
at the base of my sternum.
like when i met you when i was 20 –
belly up on my too small dorm bed.
you told me that you could take whatever you want.
when you left i felt my spine stiffen
as i washed my sheets and turned you
into a funny story.
laughter hiding what my spine knew.
laughter hiding why i cried the next time
i felt someone else’s hand on mine.
in my body i have hid secrets
in the empty space between my ribs.
i felt it in my back when i left at 13
leaning through the truck window, he said:
“you can never come back.”
vertebrae telling me that coming back
was never an option. spin stiffening at memories
that were the reason i had no place to come back too.
my spine is my greatest love story –
each bone coming to attention
to warn me, hold me, pick me back up.
i have held my softness between my teeth
and in my hands – and my resilience in
every intervertebral disc.
i have felt my spine soften when i cry. guard down at
a first kiss. back bone coming apart to show me that it knows
when i can safely lay bare. lamina reminding me that she keeps me stable.
that she remembers how to shake with laughter. that she knows when to toughen up.
nāwikan, this is a story of love for you and for the ways you
whisper through my body and remind me –
that it is in my best interest