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Poetry: A Conversation With Myself, Then and Now

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A Conversation With Myself, Then and Now

“How To Say.…” [Then]

There’s so much to say, but where to begin?

Will you hear what I mean, see beneath all my words?

So much meaning that’s there that you’ve never heard

I want to explain—the thoughts burden my heart!

But the conversation I need never seems to start

Finally the words slip off my tongue and burn like a sin

—Poem I wrote when I was 14 years old

“How to Say…” [Now]

I keep wanting to speak to you as “You,” as if the person

who wrote that poem then isn’t with me. But here you are,

and I am delighted you’re here. I mean, that I’m here.

It’s a miracle in some ways.

Some days I think I’ve become numb to things that once fascinated me,

like lava lamps and painting my fingernails purple. But then other days

I thank God for things like a friend who will truly listen.

I’ve learned that my body is my first friend.

I wanted so badly for others to hear me, but first I had to learn

to hear myself: when my right shoulder tenses up,

or I start to rock, what does it mean? My body

is a beautiful canary; not caged, but a holy conduit.

I used to think poems always had to rhyme. I tried

to fit myself into other people’s designs. Now I’m learning

how to find God in my own hips. As one poetry teacher explained,

form is an outfit meant for me. If the thrift store corduroy pants don’t fit,

then I can make some pants myself.

I learned how to cross stitch right around

the time I wrote this first poem. I even made

a watermelon-shaped pillow in a middle school class.

But that pillow was copying someone else’s design.

Sure, I can learn from others, but I want to use my own hands to make

something never made before. I MYSELF am a poem—Ephesians 2:10 says it

in the Greek! We are God’s handiwork, God’s masterpieces.

All poems. As someone made in God’s image, I too create poems.

And maybe, just maybe, once again with purple-painted fingernails.

Melanie Weldon-Soiset

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