I look at the scars that healed
on my legs and feet,
extremities that will one day
take the brunt of lectures from a podiatrist.
What abuse story will best explain their condition?
During elementary school recess,
lunch ladies used to like watching me
outrun boys in a jumper dress, knee socks
and navy blue ribbons at the end of my pigtails.
I was pushed from behind in second grade,
sent skidding on gritty concrete
until it tore off all the top
layer of skin on my knees. When mamma
saw me in the front office
with band-aids and a zip-loc bag of ice,
all she told me was, “You really need to be a lady.”
They also remember warnings: “You know, if you
get hurt, we can’t afford to take you
to the hospital!” She meant it after I twisted
my ankle on a friend’s trampoline when I was nine
and she didn’t even have to ask why
I limped between hiccuped sobs because, “I knew it.”
The right foot still spasms on days I wake up
to winter cold, or when I flashback
to the blackout pain (right now, for instance).
Did I forget to tell my husband
about the Fourth of July when I got this
almond-shaped scar right below my left knee?
Just a slight tap from the edge of a dropped
iron can, almost immediately, make skin
rise and blister like a flour pita on the stovetop.
The sting grabbed me by surprise each time
I tried to move forward.
Not even aloe vera could remove the past fully.
Or–should I tell a doctor every time I stubbed
my toe, even my entire foot, against the edge
of a chair, dresser, bed, nightstand,
the pain leaving me to grasp at stars and air?
Or the second time I twisted my ankle
while climbing (falling) out of a tree?
How about rookie razor cuts when I first started
shaving in the bathtub? I need to say I first started wearing
high heels when I was twelve, and my husband constantly
asks me why do I walk so hard, slamming my heels
on pavement to demand power in a short stature,
and repeats “that’s why you’re always in pain.”
No, I need to tell them what really happened
on the morning of Memorial Day.
I was young enough to think I didn’t need to stretch
before running down a tree lined trail and I didn’t need
to put ice on the pulled muscles afterwards. Four years
later is leaving regrets; there are bruised shadows
under the ankle whether or not I wake up and resort
to a tiptoed limp. If what is said is true,
how you’re young until muscle
and bones remind you to slow down,
the regrets will deepen with age.
I’m thinking about the consequences now, what
to tell a doctor one day as I press a towel-wrapped
ice cube into the arch and bite my bottom lip. I don’t
remember slipping on water that seeped under
the front door as I hurried to leave this morning,
and life happened too fast when I slammed against
the hard wood trunk.
My husband cradled me like a child as I screamed
without a tear, but I can’t remember pain. Only the hours
can tell me why the right foot–
the same one to twist on a trampoline–is swollen,
calling me with distress signals.
It might be time to finally get over mamma’s
reluctance of doctors and talk
endlessly before it’s too late to be pain-free. Or–
Epson salt is waiting under the bathroom sink,
I’m young and stupid
and I worship time that’ll never run out.
Note: Complete! But needs a few revisions.