Seventy inches, maybe 69, all mine

hazel eyes, moody hair, constellations of freckles

this upper lip that gets caught on a tooth

skin that erupts in chills at the sound of a stretched cotton ball

a throat that tightens and eyes that sting

more often as the years pass, sometimes from joy

other times not

I’m getting better with not

with not fair and not my problem

not like others and not ready yet


The gift of these years is this

my 70 inches, or maybe 69, finally fit

I touch each one, rather than shrink from

I know the outline and color my edges

I can stay in the lines or bleed beyond

the reflexive snarl of my twenties—still there

but the scar tissue of 40 reminds me of its price

the reflex rests

the angles of my face carved from the flesh of my youth

my youth

Three lives I’ve made, grown in my body, fed from my body

and loved with the parts of me that can’t be measured

they say that we shrink, our bones more brittle, our bodies less supple

but these lines of mine, curves and hollows, tears and roars

they are stronger, less tentative, magnificently unique

I take my 69 inches, plus one, and I run

no longer from myself but to the next yes.