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NaPoWriMo Day 3 : Legs

Today’s prompt is based in a poem by Larry Levis called “The Two Trees.” It is a poem that seems to meander, full of little digressions, odd bits of information, but fundamentally, it is a poem that takes time. It takes its time getting where it’s going, and the action of the poem itself takes place over months. Today, I’d like to challenge you to similarly write something that involves a story or action that unfolds over an appreciable length of time. Perhaps, as you do, you can focus on imagery, or sound, or emotional content (or all three!)

Its just the third day and the prompt’s got challenging. I found it tough. Let me know what you’ll think.


I was young, I must have been eight-

My mother said, ‘Keep your legs close together

Its only proper.’ I looked at her, not quite

comprehending. But I did not question. I wasn’t a boy.

I had learnt the difference. They could  sit with legs apart

It didn’t matter. I had to watch out. I was a girl.

 

I was twelve I think or maybe thirteen-

My dad put me in swimming classes. I got a new pink

swimming trunk. My legs kicking like a fish’s tail flapping.

I was free. My legs bare and strong… like the boys.

I could see each curve, each muscle. I felt proud.

Mamma said, ‘ It’s fine at the pool. But once 

you’re home, keep those legs together. You’re not

a boy.’

 

It was time for High School

I had to wear skirts. Was the new uniform. The girls wore

them high. ‘The higher the better,’ they giggled. Their legs

smooth as marble. Not mine. I kept it low and pulled my

sock up high. Mine like boys’ – an overgrown lawn.

I didn’t like that at all. Mamma said, ‘It’s too soon.’

 

Then came college.

The time had come to do what the other girls’ did.

My legs – they caught a lot of attention…from the

girls in the convent.  I sure didn’t mind. I was quite the

rage.  I wore fish-tail skirts and pencil skirts.

The ones that kept my legs together.  And I sat the way

mamma said I should.

 

Finally it was Spring. There I was, a flower

in full-bloom. I ruled the world, I strutted like a queen.

My legs trembled underneath. All eyes were on me.

But nobody noticed. The white gown was a blessing.

The stilettos held me high. They masked the fear.

And I walked into my new world.

 

Seasons changed. Many of them.

I lay on a bed-sprawled. In a blue robe. No it wasn’t.

It had sleeves…was open at the back, tied with a string.

My legs were bent at the knees. Bare. Spread out like butterflies wings.

My yoga teacher would be  proud.  The pain, it came  in spurts.

Each wave stronger. Mamma said, ‘ Take a deep breath.  Keep your

legs wide, as wide as you  can. Push darling.‘ And I did.

 

Its finally winter- the final one I think. I wobble to the door.

Not as fast as before. ‘How’re your legs, grandma ?‘ they ask.

I’m on them,‘ I smile. Its been a long journey. They’ve

withstood the seasons and the tides. They’ve ached but

not given up or in.  Not any lesser because I

was a girl.

legs2

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32 Comments »

  1. I love this Smitha – I love the storytelling, the sense of the way things change, the way you’ve incorporated the limitations put on us as girls and women but also the freedom of being ourselves.

    Like

    • I thought you might like it and I’m glad you do. I felt I had written different from how I generally write and so really wanted to know what you thought of it. Thank you for the appreciation.

      Like

      • It grabbed me from the very first stanza. And it tells such an important story. And it conveys so many feelings with relatively little words. You’ve done a very good job here. I’m glad you hit publish. If I read this one again in ten years or more I’m certain I will say “I remember this one’.

        Like

        • Angela, your comment here is for keeps and whenever I’m scared or doubt my writing, I’ll read these words to remind myself, that I did receive a comment like this. Thanks again for the motivating words.

          Liked by 1 person

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