My body is a temperamental painter unsure of her pallet. She never has enough white for the proper mix of light. And she never makes peace with too much black tainting everything with night. And what about rainbows, she asks, always drawing tears down from the cosmos to divert the sun. My body is a Prima Ballerina waning like a receding tide. She danced with all her might every single day without rest, trying to reconcile gravity while dreaming of flight. Then something broke inside and stole her pirouettes. The air turned thick, too viscous to turn in, so she’s been learning to swim instead. My body is a rock-climber made of stone, a deep-sea-diver with anchors for bones. She’s a bird with tarred-wings, scars to hold her supple streams. Blood to coat her wilder dreams. Mists to guard the mountain’s base. Too much shade to save my face. I never saw a path through the trees when black panther arrived. He said it was time to get comfortable being lost in the dark; with shadows that block out the stars and moon, so you run on instinct and soon all you have is your guts. I never gained wisdom from the snake and the fruit. I just trembled and shook and flailed around until at last I hit the ground. I kissed the dirt, bitter metal on my tongue. The violence won me over until finally I shed my skin. Again and again I’ve been gutted right when life entered my womb. I’ve had all my petals plucked at the bloom. A fortress built on a shifting cliff. A messiah in a glass crib hanging by a rope over spokes fifty feet down. The crown of thorns of a laughing god who went mad long ago when his beloved drowned in the lake of man-made fire. No funeral pyre for the Sire or the Queen of primordial dreams and memories of primal days when we all knew life hangs by a thread. So we painted our faces red for the loved ones lost, and white to appease the ghosts who still roamed the land. Black for the Beyond, respect for the void, reverence for the gift of choice and the frailty of balance. I paint my body red for courage to face the challenge of falling apart where I stand. White for the purity of a helping hand. Black for the blessing of the unknown. Silver for the guidance the stars bring. Gold for the tenacious morning who always returns. Orange for the fire of the Phoenix who always burns again on her way back to the sky. Lavender ashes fertile for stripes, a reminder of the price we pay for new life.
Copyright © Sheyorah Naify, 2021