My body as a conversation starter

On some days, my body
feels like a stranger. I sit

in the front seat of a car
six hours into a road trip

with a foreign destination.
On some days, my body

feels like an ocean that
I struggle to tame.

A wild animal I carried home
in hopes I could domesticate it.

On some days,
I tell people I have cellulite.

On some days, when my neck
hangs heavy and my fingers ache

a bit more than usual, I let people
guess at the words that have made

a home out of my skin. On some days,
my body becomes a teaching moment

of what can happen if one falls
into a bear trap. My body is a bridge

designed by world renowned architects,
built by profound engineers;

structurally sound so one can safely
transition the conversation into

how fast I let myself go. As if I wasn’t
already grasping onto the railing so hard

my hands became permanently calloused.
On some days, my body reminds

people of what I once was
before I looked death into its eyes

as it taught me how to dance.
On some days, my body is a

cemetery for my mother to grieve over
my life that has not yet ended.

On some days, my body is a
battleground for a war

that has plagued my body
long before I took my first breath.

On some days, my body is the one
that got away. It could have been you

that plummeted to your death off
the Golden Gate. On some days, I am

reminded why we no longer take family
vacations to San Francisco. And on all

the other days, I see my reflection and all the
fractures that belong to me. I look at

myself as an oil painting;
craquelure is the word

for all the hairline fractures in the world’s
most valued pieces of art.

Author’s Bio

Mary Kelly is a creative writing student that has taken on writing poetry as a way to air all the things that she feels she cannot say. Her poetry has previously appeared in 22 under 22, and the 2018 New Zealand Poetry Year Book. She currently resides in so-called Vancouver, Coast Salish Territory.