creating me [using words]

Beauty and Bruises

I remember the pride of bruises,
comparing our beat-up knees after games.
“Look at this one!”
meant, “Look how tough I am!
Look what I’ve endured!”
I wanted people to see the bruises–
they were trophies, medals, plaques
that said I had fought hard.
Even when we lost the game,
bruises were victories.

Later in life, pain became shame,
a thing to cover up.
Don’t let anybody see!
Why? Scars still show I’m tough,
that I’ve fought hard,
even on the days I lost,
I put in time and sweat and hustle.

I now reflect on the
beauty of a bruise–
both a point of pride:
look what I have survived
and a point of vulnerability:
here’s a spot that is now
tender to the touch.

An event that leaves a mark
takes on special meaning
because so many hard things
never even show up
on your skin.
Does the heart turn shades
of purple, then fade to
yellow-green? Are there colors
to recovery, in the places
no one sees?

How you interpret a scar
makes all the difference–
is it a defect or a story?
Let your body speak
and tell all its tales!

She made us wear knee-pads,
our coach, in every game,
but we didn’t want them–
young enough to still believe
our knees would last forever,
fiery enough to think
some impact wouldn’t kill us,
proud enough to prefer
the bruises of the battle
to post-game make-up
applied in locker room secrecy.

We wanted it to show up–
our burgeoning tenacity–
though courtside timidity
and adolescent insecurity
ruled our waking hours
here was the gymnasium
of our budding powers,
where nothing could keep us down,
and it was okay
(within reason) to foul,
and we were stars in our own minds
which was sufficient self-image
for surviving and sprouting soul.

And so after every game,
we swapped battle-scar stories
like trading currency,
until the value diminished in our minds.
We learned how to shun our pride,
We hid the glory of our marks,
We shrunk back down
to smaller-than-life.
We added elbow pads and helmets,
What a relief to be benched!
Perhaps I can take a nap over here
and no one will notice.
No newspaper will report my name
and my stats
I can sit and be forgotten,
no announcer to call my name.
I’ll curl my hair and paint my nails
like a grown woman
who didn’t really grow.

But when I fall asleep,
I always dream I’m playing.
I am back and
I am better than before.
Is this a memory that haunts
my sleep? Or a vision?
I stare at my knees,
too smooth, too blank.
Did I really use concealer–
on my legs??
Who have I become?
This manicured figure
is not me.
So I stand up to play with abandon.

Let your body speak
and tell all its tales!
No shame at all
in the fight you’ve fought
all your life to win,
even when the shots don’t fall,
even then, it was a win
of a different sort.
Wear each bruise proudly.


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4 thoughts on “Beauty and Bruises

  1. “what a relief to be benched.” How many times have I felt this way?… Great post Kyndall

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creating me [using words]


creating me [using words]

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