Last night, Big Red and I attended the 30th birthday of a friend. Five months ago she had her first baby, a gorgeous little girl. Perhaps you've seen her deliciously adorable face grace this blog? My friend began to tell a story of being at a pool, how she was wearing a bikini and how her niece questioned the marks on her belly. She responded saying the marks were her tiger stripes. That stuck. That coupled with what another friend said many, many years ago created the perfect storm and out came the following poem. It's rough and in its infant draft stage, but I'm just so damn excited to have finally written something again that I wanted to share.
This one is for Lyndsey and Raeann.
When the flaxen haired little girl pointed
at her bikini bare belly, and asked about the striae, she
did not hesitate to answer—these are my tiger stripes.
She spun a story that satiated the pool-side curiosity,
then submerged herself in the water, leaving the little girl
intoxicated with twinkling dreams of one day roaring.
Of course in the raw morning moments
in the privacy of her bathroom, she would pinch
and tug at loose folds of her belly, posturing
her naked self, trying to remember what her body was before.
And even though the shape of her figure did not
match the post-pregnancy bodies of celebrities on television,
she was not entirely uncomfortable with the tiger
stripes nine months left behind—those silky striations
like bunting across her belly. She was certain that the corpulent
camber of her hips could be amended, but the marks
would never leave—lines of flesh like the pink ribbons
she would someday tie into the fine fuzz of her daughter’s hair.
There was repose in knowing that when she died and her body lay
rigid on the slab, whomever examined her remains would be
certain she was a mother, they would revere what she created,
being ever so careful with this tenement—
so she says quietly to no one but the reflection
in the mirror—these scars are those worth bearing.