Two Pieces (Woman & Nostalgia) by Megan Ryals


I am
A woman
Of her legs, her hips, her breasts, her swan neck
Flowing out of me
I bring blood and I bring life

I am
My stigma
My taboo
Are worn proudly

My scars are a compass
They point north
Allowing me to avoid paths of past mistakes

My acne is a map
The backroads and highways of stress survived
Life pushing through the skin in swollen red bumps and tiny white sparks

My stretch marks
The battle my belly and breasts fought
Through too big and too little
Fat fluctuating like waves pulled by tide
And pushed back through seawall

My womb
Empty thus far
May overflow someday
Life coming in screams and gasps of air
My lungs starving as her’s take first breath

Or my womb
May remain empty
Life filled in to the brim in other ways
It will still come in screams
Of pain pleasure rage love

Either way
My body has served me
And I will worship at the alter of me.


The taste and smell of honeysuckle
Of baked pears with cinnamon
The blue of chlorine that stings young nostrils and tongues
Even the sky has a taste here

Things that you shouldn’t be able to touch
Butterfly wings, flame, cloud, air
Are all within grasp of tiny hands
Scrubbing dirt off of scabbed knees under grass stained jeans

Fear had a taste
It was metallic and made you want to cry
And it smelled like contraction paper and a freshly opened box of crayons
It came on Sunday nights and Monday mornings
When school was an inevitability

And on Friday afternoons
Excitement tasted like freshly baked cookies
And smelled like Christmas tree needles and exploding magnolia blossoms

Joy came with dirty swamp water and loud splashes in mud puddles
Or skidding on patches of ice under a dazzling blue sky
With joy there is an intermingling of all five senses
And whatever brings you that feeling gives with it a
Taste, smell, sound, touch and sight
That cannot be put into words
But that you will remember as clear and distinct twenty, thirty, fifty years later
And you’ll call it nostalgia
Because when you’re an adult the senses are not enough
You have to put a word on it.


Megan Ryals studied poetry and theatre at Southeastern Louisiana University, where she received her bachelors degree. Her poem Blood: A Look at Complex PTSD was previously published in Rhythm and Bones Lit’s “You Are Not Your Rape” anthology. She lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. She can be found on twitter under the handle @dirrtysunshine, where she frequently posts about intersectional feminism, disability activism, and her life as a trauma survivor.

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