Posted by: Phaidra | September 25, 2013

Skin

He said it was his deodorant, but I knew better. His skin radiated and I wanted to strip naked to crawl up in his shirt and burrow; warm, skin-on-skin, touching as much as possible. My nose in the crook of this neck, lips just about the surface, tongue tip needy with taste. I wanted to feel the sheen of sweat slide along my body hair like dew on Redbud blossoms, my own skin mingling with the scent of rosemary and sea salt.

It reminded me of standing on the boat deck and the barely-contained urge to dive into dark waters, white spray flying around metal. The absolute knowledge that you might die standing on that deck, resisting the sirens’ lyrics, and the only thing holding you back are the ropes of your life on land. I was so sad in that moment, longing for something I could never have: peace. Instead, I had the harder path where luck finds you in batches, but only because you’ve fought through your family’s dependence and the affairs and the divorce and the insults and the assault. Where you set your feet firmly on the deck and shake your puny fist at the storm clouds.

It wasn’t the deoderant. It was my own need for rest, for support, for love. It was his smile and the flash of his blue eyes in the dark. It was my desire to be desired and dependence on touch to provide it. It was the eye of the storm when you both huddle in the corner and talk about the future.

Posted by: Phaidra | April 29, 2013

On Bellydance

I can think of very few things more exposing than a “fat girl” getting up on stage and showing her midriff to a group of strangers. Seriously. If you had asked me 3 years ago if I’d be able to get up on stage and do it, I’d have laughed in your face and called you looney. But that’s exactly what I do, at least once a month. I get up on stage and show my belly, flinging it around like a bag of oranges, twisting, turning, pooching out over my costume in sometimes the most heinous of unflattering positions. I have pictures if you need confirmation.

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And you know what? When I’m on that stage, in “dancer mode,” I couldn’t possibly care less. You could sling all kinds of insults about my flab for the entire dance and if the others dancers, drummers, and friends in the audience didn’t beat you to death with your own arms first, I would flip you off and ask for another set. I feel that good on stage. My self esteem bank account fills with every slap of the drum. I feel safe and supported and loved and beautiful and… just about every other good word you can think about yourself.

And that’s just on an average dance. On a good dance? One where I feel like I rocked it? I live on that adrenaline for days.

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And I know that part of that is just that the belly dance community is SOOOOO amazing in their acceptance, at least where I live. I really hope that it’s that way in every belly dance community, because I can’t imagine it being anything else. Those who dance with me and drum with me and support us all in the audience are phenomenal.

This is not to belittle the other support I get in life. The last couple of years have been hard, and at lot of the time, it’s felt really hard and you’ve watched me cry, visited me in the hospital, stroked my hair, bought me wine, and taken me out for dinner. You’ve listened to me bitch about politics, threatened to beat people up, kissed my face, and just said, “Got your back.” Talked, cajoled, complimented, driven… Once, at my home away from home, I told a friend that nothing bad would ever happen to me there because it would never be allowed. As I walked away to the bathroom, someone came up behind me and yanked my pants up. Surprised , I turned around and it was one of those friends, “Your underwear was showing.” Talk about having my back. :D

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And I wish I could give every single one of you something that was filled with the level of joy I feel when I dance. It’s why I’ve begged some of you to come see me dance. It’s why I nearly jump out of my skin in happiness when I see one of you in the audience. It’s why when I’m down, I go downstairs and dance or when I’ve so despondent that I can barely make it out of bed, I review choreography in my head until I can take my first steps in the morning. It’s why I can barely wait for Kick Butt weekend in order to fling my midriff around in complete joyous contentment when most mornings I obsess over the scale in my bathroom. It has saved me countless times now and I will get up there in one of those boots I always manage to get myself into if I have to in order to continue dancing.

It’s that much joy for me. It’s that important to me. And me asking you to join me at a show or patiently look through all the pictures on Facebook? It’s that how much I love you.

Posted by: Phaidra | April 4, 2013

Potential

A single kernel of black pepper is
wedged between his top two teeth.
To tell him, only polite, or jump
across the table and lick it away?

“This is good.”

Spice on my tongue. His
surprise on my breast.
Keys stabbing both our
thighs. The palatable envy
of caressless judgers.

“It’s packed in here.”

The smell of smoke curls
off the barbeque pit and
lands in my hair. Want
filling my stomach as I sit,
leaving no room for charred
brisket or cole slaw. We’ve
isolated ourselves too much, but
words skitter off the table,
blocked by my sudden
obsession.

“Are you not hungry?”

A heated attack of digits
pulling at his buttons. Hands
gripping the sides of my head.
Shared sauce on lips. The feel of a
wooden table on my back.
Shimmering everywhere as
sweet pepper burns.

He pauses, “Are you ok?”

I smile.

“You have pepper in your teeth.”

Posted by: Phaidra | April 3, 2013

Dose

It’s that morning when
you realize you’re not worth
the sunlight on your skin.
Cement shoes rip at the
ligaments in your legs.
Friends call to ask
what’s taking you so long.

It’s that afternoon when
air becomes liquid.
You swim for the surface,
afraid to think of the
dark shadows stirring around
you. The feel of your shirt
reminds you of slick skin.

It’s that evening when
toothpaste becomes sawdust
and your sheets are stale.
Ants crawl up your arms and you
feel the electric pulses
between your synapses.
Words burrow in between.

It’s that day you plead,
“Quiet. Just a little quiet.”

Posted by: Phaidra | April 2, 2013

Honesty

Don’t give me a bouquet of Baby’s Breath,
greenery, and scentless, long-stemmed roses
wrapped in tissue paper and a red ribbon.

Instead plant me a garden full of mint and lavender.
Let me have hibiscus flowers to drink, rosemary to eat and
honeysuckle to dissect for its nectar.
Place strawberries under Mountain Laurels
where birds can gorge on red flesh.
Leave the praying mantis to her cricket and
the snakes to the blackberry bushes.
Shun the nets that cover apple trees and
provide a path to the orange blossoms.
Let the gate stand open and
be damned the neighbor’s dog.

But if instead a posy you must give me,
fill it with oleander and
leave the thorns on the roses.
Fill the gaps with thistles and bramble and
I promise to grab it ungloved and
let each trickle of blood
wrap and curl around the stems
like a red ribbon.

Posted by: Phaidra | April 2, 2013

Heart

Her breath fogs the glass,
ignoring the chatter of classmates
in their padded, high-back seats,
and the shuddering of the bus doors.

Finger first to dipping mid point
then up around the curve,
down to bottom tip.
A reflection to complete.

In the middle, four initials with
curling tails and dripping sweat.
Head and quill piercing
down and up, arched.

The boy in front of her turns,
sees her frosted handiwork then
reaches over and wipes the glass clean,
blushing at such silly things.

She scowls while he turns back around.
Laughter and the sound of slapping hands
announcing his congratulations.
Another thought thwarted.

Then with raised eyebrow and small, knowing smile
her finger drifts down,
touches a new frozen pane and
starts again at dipping midpoint.

Posted by: Phaidra | April 2, 2013

Resurrection

I’m resurrecting this blog to participate in the NaPoWriMo during the month of April. In response to how life has been bothering me the last couple of years, a friend of mine told me, “You do better when you’re writing.”

We’ll see how many poems I actually get written and posted in light of that insight.

Posted by: Phaidra | November 24, 2008

Compassion

I’m trying *very* hard to be compassionate toward someone tonight. In my calmer moments, it settles on me easily. In the other moments, I remember how I sat there calmly and let a him yell at me because I knew he had too much to drink; how I took everything he said, no matter how hurtful, no matter how many times he called me in the night to yell some more, terminating our friendship and adding insult to injury; how even the next morning, when I thought he would realize the sanity of my decision and be embarrassed, he instead threw more angry words, reaffirming his desire to forsake me.

In those moments, I try to remind myself that I made a judgement call and stuck to my conviction, that it’s only been a day and that this was more-than-likely a trigger for a larger issue in his life; anger pouring out at me because he couldn’t pour it elsewhere. What to do with this info is the problem.

Do I let him apologize if he eventually wants to, knowing his tolerance for me is so low?

Do I just grieve the loss now and let the rest fall out as it would?

Where does compassion end and martyrdom begin?

When do I turn my cheek and then walk away?

Posted by: Phaidra | October 25, 2008

The upside of being sick

I am sick.

Sick, sick, sick, sick, sick.

At the beginning of the week, I thought it was allergies. So I loaded up on Astelin and Mucinex D and went about my business. Went to work. Four days later, feeling worse each day, I realize it’s a virus, not allergies as one might suppose with the mold so high in central Texas.

But today, after speaking with a coworker about her brush with snot, she said that my symptoms well matched her symptoms of a week ago. “What?! But the molds are still high,” I said.

“Yes, but my symptoms went away after a week of so of bad congestion and coughing so I know it was a virus, not allergies, regardless of the mold count. Did you see how high the ragweed was? Yuck. I’m doomed.”

This information blew my mind. All my efforts were fruitless because virus must be tolerated not thwarted like allergies; contained in little bubbles of symptom induced reactions, not undermined by modern medicine.

But right now, instead of wondering what virus I have, you’re probably wondering how my coworker and I both know the molds are high and ragweed is on the rise? You don’t live in central Texas, do you? Well, here in good ol’ Cedar Park, suburb of Austin, capital of Cedar Fever, we know what allergens are high because we have to. It’s a survival mechanism. Other people, like in Phoenix or El Paso, might need to know the temperature because at 120, your skin starts to melt, but here, the all important question is what little fleck of plant sperm is floating around and making you feel like shit. This will determine your entire focus for the day. Do you take just the Zyrtec in the morning or do you Zyrtec, Nasonex and saline wash? Do you settle for a half of dose of Mucinex D because the oak pollen is only “medium” or do you hide in your bed with extra Hepa filters in the air conditioning unit because cedar is at all time highs? These are the questions every person in the Austin area must ask themselves to survive… all the normal ones, anyway.

You also might ask yourself, “Why does she sound like she’s on drugs right now?” That’s because I’ve decided  that the only defense is a good offense… Modern medicines can’t conquer viruses so I’m drinking bourbon and cokes instead of taking more medicine… well, in addition really, but you get the point.

Besides, I blame it all on my roommate in college. You see, there was a time when this roommate… you know who you are… developed a bad cough; a really bad cough, actually. So bad, in fact, that it was very worrisome. We didn’t have wonderful drugs like Astelin and Claritin and Zyrtec back then, only “kick your ass into bed” Benedryl and “there’s no need for food” pseudoephdrine. Besides, we had money only for sangria and beer, not medicine, so her mom suggestion a folk remedy guaranteed to solve her coughing problem: honey, lemon and Jack Daniels. Hot damn, we thought, What a brilliant woman.

After the recommendation, we bought the ingredients and I watched my roommate down this concoction like it was friggin’ ambrosia… ’cause it was. She’d take it before bed, before sitting down for homework, before class even, coughing the whole time, but less so we thought. I think at one point she even had a flask of it she took TO class. Anyway, a couple of weeks later, the cough was gone, but the remedy stuck in my head like the burn of a late afternoon sun in your retinas while trying to see a western facing stoplight (yep, I’ve been drinking).

So, I thought, Why the hell not and here  I sit, virus attack my left ear like Ghengis Kahn on Rome and I’m trying the old concoction in a desperate attempt to feel better… and it’s frickin’ working! Kinda, anyway. Of course, I’ve substituted the lemon and honey for Coke Zero and switched Jack Daniels for Maker’s Mark, but the essence is still there. Why dwell in the little stuff?

Sure the pain in my ear is still there and I’m still congested as hell, but I don’t give flip and isn’t that what it’s all about?

Time for another dose!

Shoot! I forgot to post this a month ago…

*******************

I cannot believe it’s been this long since I’ve updated this blog and yet it feels like forever since I’ve been dealing with my ankle. As I’m sure everyone knows by now, because I’ve complained to everyone I’ve run into, the latest insult to injury is that I am supposed to use a cane to help me get around. A cane? Really? Like those crook handled things? Great.

Now the good news to this is that, after 9 weeks of crutching and a total of 20 weeks in a boot (yes, I’ve been in the boot since February), I get to “ween” out of the boot as long as I promise to only wear very unfashionable tennis shoes, in which I can wear my orthotics AND seriously consider the use of a cane. (“A cane? Really?”) Since this discussion with my doctor, I’ve become obsessed about the cane.

“You should just get the cane. No one will notice and it’ll help you walk,” says just about everyone I complain to.

My pride answers, “No way! I have to give up heels, sandals and even fashionable flats because of my race horse ankles, but I’ll be damned if I’ll teeter on a cane.” There’s just only so far I’m willing to be pushed around by a tiny, broken bone.

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Kendall F. Person, thepublicblogger

Where writing is a performance art and every post is a show.

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