silence replaced by the echo of whitecaps. warm darkness beneath the blanket
lit up by bakugou’s explosions, izuku’s countering kick, the sensation of flying. i pretend
to be epic daydreams of dodging attacks, saving pedestrians, telling a joke that’ll make
someone smile. i want to smile. i want to grow flowers and firecrackers
inside bone cocoon, shell full of ocean sounds, anime cries, someone telling me that i am good enough.
there’s a yolky sunlight dripping into my eyes. i collect what i can and dive until only
a lump can be seen above the waves. i sustain myself on iced tea, poetry, and boku no academia. i stay caught up, still indecisive about my own on my future. i am wondering when i will stop
referring to this shell as external. i’d like to be a hero to someone. no poster or news articles.
i’d like to make someone smile because sometimes i do not remember how to and maybe by
enfolding another person inside the shell-- i am nudging my head out from beneath the sheets.
forgive me when i forget to reply to text messages or am too tired to call you. i am not
ignoring you. sometimes, i cannot handle the noise of the outside world, retreating into my own music. there are times when i desire to be condensed, full of energy,
a blind star overlooked by telescopes and astrologists. content to stay a secret
for a little longer. i wake up, sit in the morning like a turtle opening itself to the outside. loneliness is not a bad thing. being soft is not a bad thing. this body maybe more soft than hard, but i have survived this long without being eaten, without losing
myself to scorching sun or birds of prey. i bend the blankets around my body into a functioning carapace and plastron. it solidifies, hardens. i am safe. i am solid, strong. i have not been
eaten. nothing will eat me. my shell is the resonator of an instrument. someone is singing,
airy and tangible like the universe. it might be God or the wind or both. i am here
listening and filling myself up. the airwaves are full of low-fi and sea sounds.
you might think that i am afraid of something. sometimes i am. there are times
when i do not recognize my friends. my eyes fissure over, everything far away, dizzy. sometimes they wave and i miss it by accident. i have been trying to wake up. sometimes
i catch them. it confuses them, when they get a few feet away and i suddenly say hi. i see
their confused expressions, the why-didn’t-you-see-me in their eyes, and i do not know how to tell them that I am a sea child far from home, making do with two legs, classwork,
winter months. that sometimes i am sleepwalking, sleepwaking, that sometimes i am only a sometime presence. i return to my sea cave and unpack my tension
from the day. i love the mornings. when i wake up, there is a brief moment when i am
warm, still drowsy and genuinely love myself. i wish i could stop saying
love handles firm yet malleable in my hands. i grip the smooth flesh, pull.
the flesh is warm and spiderwebbed with stretchmarks. trace my growth
around the curve, down between thigh and spiral outwards to return to the
handles, rub them over. do not wonder whether or not someone else will
one day grip these handles, want me against them, want me to stay.
salt bones, sugar muscles. flab that hangs, flaps like heavy wings.
my arms hide small diamonded muscles beneath their plumage.
these lungs can carry a song through a storm. these legs can take me anywhere,
even if they’re burning. this larynx can capture and release stories.
i hold my body and my body holds me and we, as one, continue learning how
to navigate one another. i name every place i touch with a memory.
weight is always a scary thing for some reason. that slump over the
border of my light blue jeans is easily seen through certain shirts. can’t tummy
tuck. i used to wear my body like another thing to deal with. thighs felt too big.
never had a flat stomach. couldn’t aim the ball into the basket. couldn’t run
fast enough to win the game. i watched anime and imagined being able
to command my body, be in tune with its movements. flying kicks, backflips,
hand-to-hand combat, limitless pain tolerance. sometimes i still wonder
if i can fly or if i am too heavy.
i am tired of being told that this body is a project that i must continuously
work on. i can eat pizza and greens too. vegetable stir fry or chicken salad
then wash it down with water or a stewart’s orange cream soda. i like
to wear baggy shirts not because my rolls will roll but because i don’t like
things that feel like an extra layer of skin and maybe a baggy shirt is like
wearing a hug, which i don’t get enough of. i don’t want a man anywhere
inside my perception of myself.
i am not chocolate or caramel or any other flavor don’t look at me as if
i am something to order off of a menu something exotic or greasy. i taste
like clay, wobble like jelly, sway to a rhythm of church, rain, lo-fi, loneliness.
i cannot forget the trauma inside the black body. i am a crossroads
of two kinds of suffering which creates a unique kind of suffering.
i see this in the way my sisters and i are told to wear ourselves as if always
ready to be taken, to defend, or to run. i am in the constant process
of separation from historic and current subjugation.
i have experienced joy. i have jumped from swings and for a free-falling
second, caught summer in my hands. i have danced at a party with several
friends and held the dancefloor like my personal bedroom jam session.
i have been held close, been told that i am soft, that i am beautiful not
despite of these curves, this skin, love handles and soft tummy, but because
of them. i have touched myself in the shower, not for need of release,
but because i like that i am solid and present, and soft.
my hips are blessed because my momma’s hips are blessed. the most stable
and tree-like hips. every time she says something about her weight
i hug her and say she’s the most beautiful woman ever. she is one
of the only reasons i know how to call myself beautiful.
we are the most beautiful houses. the most beautiful oceans. the most beautiful
minerals and gradual crystallization. we are glass and shatter, rock and erosion,
tree and roots, spirit and levitation.
i touch every bodypart with a memory, with magic, saltwater.
i will return again and again until the chant is a prayer renewed
and answered in every new layer of cells.
Dynas Johnson is an English major at Temple University and has poems featured in Sooth Swarm Journal, Ghost Proposal, Rogue Agent, and others. When she is not writing, she is probably hunting for music on YouTube, watching her little sisters, or wandering Philadelphia. You can find her on Instagram: @dynasaur0 and on tumblr: https://shuidinosaurs.tumblr.com/.