July 15, 2014

Oh, if only I shed pounds the way I shed hair! ~ Jenine Baines {Poem}


Sometimes we get far too caught up focusing on the wrong things: concerns, ideas, regrets or goals we should simply allow to wash down the drain.

This is either because, like the amount of hair we lose daily, they are out of our control, or, in the long run, are not all that important.

What ultimately matters is not whether our hair is thinning or our hips are widening…or whether our names are listed at the top of the company masthead or (my own particular bugaboo) on the cover of a bestseller. What matters is what we “look like” inside.

Most of us are taught this, and some of us are even masters at sharing this lesson with others. But living it, making it our life’s modus and quest, can be another matter entirely.

I wrote this poem to give myself a good “scrubbing.” To step out of the shower of self pity—I was going bald, I was too fat, I was too old, I was doomed forever, after a lifetime of wrong decisions, to be a wanna-be writer rather than a “real” one—and remind myself that true joy is right here, right now, in this very moment. I simply needed to open my eyes, recognize it, claim it, and be grateful.

Gratitude, I have learned, is everything.

The sun slanting across a bed of tulips…a hummingbird alighting at a feeder…the smile on a stranger’s face as we pass one another on a sidewalk…a glass of wine with good friends…a walk along the water with a small child…the unexpected glimpse of blue sky and clouds reflected in a tall glass building…

These are true blessings, and there are cornucopias of them for the asking daily. Even within the impenetrable mists of challenges and sorrows, they are there. We just have to hunt a little harder.

The accolades, the attainments, the accoutrements may come one day. I may actually find a way to lose those 10 pounds, stop shedding scary amounts of hair, and get myself a damn good agent who believes in me. But if I don’t recognize these achievements for what they are—just stuff, mere froth evaporating at the first sip—I will wind up right where I began, whining about that mucky clump of hair that circles the drain.

Oh, if only
I shed pounds
the way I shed hair!
How perfectly
my clothes would drape,
how buoyant––
like a bird soaring—
I might feel.

Or would I?
For I am fat and earthbound

with more than
glycerol and fatty acids—
starting with
those stubborn pockets of pride,
those saddlebags
of anxieties and resentments,
that pot belly of insecurity
I never manage to flatten.
And my rear parts—
have I mentioned them?
How they jiggle,
deep beneath the surface,
with judgments cast
like stones into a pond.

Diet guides tell me
I should burn more
than I take in—okay.
the real metabolism booster
is contained neither
within the pages of a booklet
nor even in a pill.

No, better to look instead
to a clasped hand or a smile.
To the song of the lake
or the kaleidoscopic slant
of sunlight
across a white petal.

here within our hearts
the most potent
incantation and elixir of all.
Two simple little words,
as out of the shower
of shadows
into the light
we step:
thank you.


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Editor: Travis May

Photos: Pixoto/Danut Dragos Voicu

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