Feathers, forked tongues, hollow bones & filaments

There was a hint of surprise in her voice when she said it: “You are becoming so fearless.” My response? An enthusiastic, “I know!” This, coming from Shanna, a damn freaking good poet, novelist, writer, writing instructor and friend (girl crush!) means so much. She was speaking of writing, but the ever strengthening fearlessness goes beyond words.

We went to a trail running event last weekend. The night before the race, a hula hoop contest was part of the festivities. BadAss and I had our outfits coordinated perfectly. Getting up on the stage in pasties, a red wig and a skirt made out of poof balls took nothing at all, not even a gulp of liquid courage, though the whiskey went down smooth enough. You’ve come a long way, baby! The best part, though, was when a naked giraffe arrived on the scene and stole the show. That bitch took our first place win, but I couldn’t have been happier! Why? The naked giraffe was a woman from North Carolina who was just passing through visiting friends. She said she’d never done anything like that. “Go for it,” we told her as the music blasted and the disco ball spun above the stage, and she did. She spun that hoop in her giraffe mask and nothing else. She was thrilled about the experience and had a great time. No lightning bolts struck her down. The sky didn’t fall. The Pope didn’t banish her to a rocky island. The next morning, she used some of my gold body paint and ran through the forest with giraffe spots on her shoulder. Now, thankfully, there is one more person in this world who has one more fearless feather in her cap. Yes and yes! Fearlessness results in experience and experience results in confidence. With confidence comes the ability to truly soar. Schmaltzy as hell, but oh so true.

There was a time when writing truly felt frightening. Part of it was insecurity about the quality of my writing and part of it was being held back by someone in my life who believes that creativity is a waste of time. (Everything else must come first). I’m sorry but the chores list can wait! When the muse calls, there can be no holding back. And I certainly wasn’t wasting any time at all this morning when, while running, the poem below jumped into my head and was finished creating itself by the time I got home.

Yes, Miss Shanna, thanks in part to you, I am getting more and more fearless every day. Thanks to Brad and other people who’ve whispered, “spread your wings,” into my ear, I’m closer to soaring than I’ve ever been. This is not only important for myself, but for my sons, who are growing wings of their own.

I am also more conscious of the things I want, the things I need to take control of in my life. I am confident that I will conquer my fear of going beneath the sea and exploring that big old ocean. One day I will defy gravity and fly with the fishes.

There’s poetry down there, ya know.


Ape, not monkey he likes to say
when I tell him I spent the day
swinging from trees. Swinging by my tail,
howling and flinging myself
from branch to branch.

 “No silly, we are descended from apes.
You can’t have a tail.”

So I slump into the green chair after a long day
in a box and flood my brain with lighter
fluid. For I am tired of lumbering,
knuckles dragging. Worn to nothing
by the elements. Ground down by
blowing wind and rain, absent
summer. Cold, starless nights. 

“I want to fly,” I chatter in broken
monkey language. “Do you hear me?”

Give me my tail. Give me bent-branched
treetops. Give me scales and wings.
Sky. Emptiness. Release me into space.
Allow me the pleasure of hollow bones and forked
tongues, tentacle arms and filaments.
Marrow is too heavy, gravity
demoralizing. The apes can have it all.


3 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Robin Elizabeth Sampson
    Aug 20, 2010 @ 21:00:49

    Yes! (she says even as she often cowers in the corner). Be brave! Often I think I’m actually talking to myself when I urge others to follow their dreams. It gives me great hope to see others doing it, since I know how hard it is. I’m not there yet, but maybe we never are really “there” – just always on our way.

    And I have a poem titled “Defiance” too! It’s years old. (and not as good as yours). 🙂


  2. sensualafflictions
    Aug 21, 2010 @ 22:54:05

    Life. How to measure it? How to qualify it? I can’t pack enough into each day, and it sometimes makes me cranky. Time is not money; time is life and death. We all need to open our arms and feel the air. If we rise on an updraft, then it was meant. At the very least, we feel. When we fail to feel, we fail….period.


  3. Shanna Germain
    Aug 24, 2010 @ 16:18:39

    Yah for inspiration, delight and joy! Lovely poem. I’m just standing in your shadow, cheering you on!


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