09 August 2017

Exposing the Seams



Grandmother taught us to hide our stitches
when hemming, darning and tailoring—
her lesson as deep as Mom’s not to shoplift.
We picked out offending threads with grubby little
fingers just as we brought tiny lifted things
back to salespeople, shame-faced and contrite.

We did the same with our skin, hiding the scars
of stitches and cysts, covering the pock marks
of childhood diseases, and composing poker faces
for emotional and spiritual wounds healing and unhealed,
trying to hide our isms, hushing quickly when
“our slip is showing” or we “air our dirty laundry.”

Yet now we learn we must air wounds to mend them,
walk our grievances in upper class streets to create change,
expose the harm to our nation’s soul to remain human
or rejoin humanity.  If some of us tattoo our bodies freely,
making art of wrist cuts and face slashes, who can blame us?
We broadcast beliefs and relationships like billboards.

We work as hard to expose wounds as we did
to hide them.  We watch them turn to scars and medals
or disappear, marking progress and sealing memberships.
And now I own my grey hair and wrinkles, my gender
and liver spots, my whiteness and color, I learn how
they add to or reduce harm and good in the world.


My blog poems are rough drafts. 
Please respect my copyright. 
© 2017 Susan L. Chast



22 comments:

said...

This is incredible, Susan! I am SO touched by this.

"expose the harm to our nation’s soul to remain human
or rejoin humanity. If some of us tattoo our bodies freely,
making art of wrist cuts and face slashes, who can blame us?"

That section and the first stanza are just so so so good.

Samyuktha Jayaprakash said...

So inspiring! Thank you.

Sanaa Rizvi said...

This is so incredibly evocative, Susan!💖 Especially admire; "Yet now we learn we must air wounds to mend them, walk our grievances in upper class streets to create change" .. sigh.. Beautifully executed!💖


Lots of love,
Sanaa

annell said...

A life often requires a bit of mending.

Rob Jackson said...

I like the idea of showing the stitches of a repair (a wound) rather than hiding them. Do we always have that choice?

Sherry Blue Sky said...

Wow! Packed with power! Loved every line!

Marja said...

"We broadcast beliefs and relationships like billboards." Very powerful Yes we do we broadcast more than we think we do. I think we are only free when we owe ourselves completely.

Martin Kloess said...

Marvelously expressed. We wear our past (good and bad).

Old Egg said...

What a wonderful poem Susan and how easily I related to all the 'isms' you referred to (well apart from the slip showing beneath the skirt!). Once shopping with our two kids we walked out the shop only to realize our daughter had walked of a store with a toy in hand; so she learnt that lesson by having to return it shamefaced as well.

Audrey Howitt aka Divalounger said...

Loved, loved, loved this Susan--every bit of it!

rallentanda said...

Times have changed from presenting a perfect image to letting it all hang out branding our bodies with tattooes and piercings.
Miss Mouse in a teapot house types live hidden away and don't confront these overwhelming problems of engaging in the real world:)

Thotpurge said...

It's a tough call in traditional societies just to be comfortable in your own skin....there is a way to carry it with dignity and demand that it be accorded the respect everything deserves... but that battle is still being fought in many places where the social price is too high.

C.C. said...

Wow, wow, wow. So very good. "Yet now we learn we must air wounds to mend them,
walk our grievances in upper class streets to create change,"---oh, yes, how so many of us must now learn things that are so different than what we learned in childhood in order to effect change and healing.

Sarah Russell said...

Great ending for this poem, Susan. I think we must have grown up in the same era of perfection in our stitcher and our presentation to the world.

Sumana Roy said...

How wonderfully you walk us from one age to another! May be unwittingly we're becoming Kintsugi artists at time's demand. Love every line of the poem.

Jae Rose said...

a powerful write Susan - I can relate to the meaning of scars..

Panchali said...

Mind is the world’s most sophisticated “detox” machine and factory....so, everything depends on the strength of the mind!
Oh I love this poem! Made me look at myself and think 'Yeah. You're ok, grummy' Thank you! Love it, Susan!

Magical Mystical Teacher said...

I am past trying to hide the scars and blemishes. They are all a part of me. They tell me, and others, of the journey I have taken and continue to take.

Mary said...

Susan - this a wonderful poem. I agree with you that scars are to be embraced. There is beauty in scars...we have earned them. We should not listen to those who tell us to hide our scars. Our scars are US! You really are a good poet, Susan. Sometimes I am awed.

sreeja harikrishnan said...

Incredibly deep and so meaningful...this when i read got straight to my heart ....something to be shared!

The Bizza said...

This is brilliant and inspiring. Especially this:
Yet now we learn we must air wounds to mend them,
walk our grievances in upper class streets to create change,
expose the harm to our nation’s soul to remain human
or rejoin humanity. If some of us tattoo our bodies freely,
making art of wrist cuts and face slashes, who can blame us?

Sara McNulty said...

I found this to be a powerful, thought-provoking poem. Be you, and shout it from the rooftops.