if my body could speak - Poem by Toni Giselle Stuart
At Prairie Wear we are graced with the presence and beauty of so many wonderful women whose bodies carry them through the ups & downs of life in amazing ways.
One of the many incredible women we’ve met along the way is the wonderful poet Toni Stuart who uses her spoken and written work to remind us that the world is complex but can be changed, and that our bodies carry stories and us through our lives and are to be celebrated.
We commissioned Toni to write a poem for us to celebrate the diversity, strength and wonder of our bodies and it’s a poignant & powerful look into her own life and journey with her own body, her mother’s body and learning to love ourselves just as we are.
Thank-you for the inspiration and fearlessness, Toni, you are a joy to have in our #prairiecircle!
if my body could speak
when i was a child, i stood riveted before the mirror:
curious and laughing, i studied every freckle on my face
contorted my nose and mouth into unseemly shapes.
when i was a teen, i made wishes to the mirror:
raised my eyebrows to grow my eyes, clenched my butt
to give it more volume –aching to be more beautiful.
when i was a woman, i gazed into the mirror
of my mother’s face. my hands massaging warmth
into her feet after chemo, my fingers washing her thinning hair.
her eyes told me stories of Saturday afternoons
running the length of soccer pitches in the rain,
throat hoarse with cheering her team and goading the ref.
her smile told me stories of Friday nights
in darkened church halls, feet sweeping light
across wooden floors to the band’s jazz and swing.
her cheeks told me stories of cool Indian ocean swims
on scorching summer days; and the taste of pistachio
ice-cream on the plaza in Rome, with my father
but these are stories no mirror will show.
the mirror speaks of girth and my skin marked with stretches
but i see a stomach with steel enough to ride fear
and stand on a stage before a crowd of one thousand faces.
the mirror speaks of flab and my slow sag of thigh
but i see legs of stamina walking 45km through undulating
terrain, finding their way in the dark to cross a tidal river.
the mirror speaks of grey slowly creeping through my curls
but i see a face softened by grief and love. i see a breast
that will one day feed a child. i see skin that survived german measles, chicken pox and eczema
i see a hand that looks like my mother’s and her mother’s and her mother’s
my grandmother’s body fought diabetes
now my blood tastes life’s sweetness
my mother’s body held cancer
now my cells carry hope
the mirror shows me the rise and fall of my breath
i see a body learning how to accept its softness
i see a body learning how to recognize its strength
- Toni Giselle Stuart
You can also listen to Toni reading her poem here