Tag: body

southern fried haiku . . . at least on the surface

so there i was: on a productive track. whizzing through the day, feeling on top of the world and in control of my life by ticking things off The List. then the mail came, bearing my copy of rhonda’s book.

opening that book – holding it in my hands – i could do nothing but stop, drop, and read the afternoon away.

i cried as i read – i cried big, i tell you – each tear filled with love, sorrow, admiration. i grieved things and people passed: rhonda, graduate school, friends, life. so much.

so much.

rhonda wrote honestly, openly, about her body dressed in multiple sclerosis. her words will tear you apart and put you back together in ways you can’t even begin to imagine. i am immediately thrown back to admonishments about the wickedness of a woman’s body . . . of my body. rhonda heard those same admonitions, heard them from the same (though different) sources, but when multiple sclerosis struck, she could no longer hide or deny her body. she learned to live large within the confines of her body, writing openly about her step quota, her falls, her bladder issues, her libido. as i read her candidness about how she learned to work around the “numbness of her crotch” to achieve orgasm, i thought Well, shoot. if she can write about that, surely I can share my southern-style efforts at haiku.

so here goes, red-face and all:

Cloud your thinking mind
Send it behind yonder tree
Then run away. Fast.

Laugh was her real name.
She married a man named Moore.
No sense of humor.

Pay tribute to them,
those society discards.
You will never be sorry.

Peer around the bin
The looney tunes await you.
You don’t have to stay.

The shadows open up
To let the light trickle in.
Boulders block the way.

Iron the wrinkles in.
It’s not the usual way.
It takes less time, though.

i’m not much of one to saddle the dead with responsibility for my life, but i swear i’m hard-pressed not to think about rhonda and ask myself what the hell am i waiting for . . .

[ ::: ]

“You were given this life because you are strong enough to live it.” ~ Unknown

[ ::: ]

i bought each of my children a copy of her book, you know. not so they’ll go blind at the sight of their naked mother, but as a sticky note to remind them that to be vulnerable is its own kind of strength; to keep after what your heart just will not set aside, even if it takes you 16 times longer than it should because of things you cannot control; and to always, always, always open yourself up to something new . . . even if it looks like a squirrel.

[ :: ] [ :: ] [ :: ]

maybe you’re ready, too?

production or process?


Though I love my sewing machine (It was under the first Christmas tree I put up as a married woman some 40 years ago – my husband bought it for me with money he won in a radio contest.), I prefer hand stitching.


I love the way the fabric ripples up into ridges. How the feel of the cloth changes as I go. I love having an image in mind, then fiddling and grappling to create it in cloth.


Decades ago, I would’ve been horrified for you to see my knots, embarrassed at rows of stitches that go the way of handwriting on a sheet of unlined paper. But now? I swat the air with my hand and say a hearty Pffffft.

Stitching by hand is yoga for my mind.


I don’t know how many quilts my grandmother made. I’m currently tracking them down, photographing them, building a catalog of her work. She used her Singer treadle machine to make pieced quilts from patterns. I remember the whirr, the up and down of the treadle, the look on her face as she fed colorful scraps under the needle.


I wonder if she preferred the machine for its speed. She was busy from sunup to sundown, and she moved like a rabbit – she had to to get everything done. Or maybe, it occurs to me since my husband retired, the sound of the machine formed a wall around her, giving her space to call her own the only way she could get it.

on the third day of yoga, my true self brought to me


Unless you have problems with your short-term memory, you may recall that on the third day of Christmas the true love came bearing gifts of 3 – count them, three – French horns. One feller who talks like he knows, says the three French horns refer to faith, hope, and charity while another fella proclaims the third day of Christmas to honor the life of St. John, who has the distinction of being the only one of the twelve apostles to die a natural death.

Anyway, in likening my third yoga class to the third day of Christmas, I see some distinct similarities. Given that I am short and round and stiff, not tall and lanky and bendy like most yoga folks, just signing up for yoga shows that I have a heaping’ helping’ of faith and hope. Charity? April (the teacher) provides that.

I tend to hang out with yoga folks online, and I have a few questions – three, in keeping with the title – that came up as I spent time on the mat today . . .

First of all, am I the only one who sweats like a big ole’ glass of sweet tea on a hot summer afternoon? This isn’t Bikram yoga, folks. This is plain ole’ yoga in the Episcopal church.

And does anybody besides me worry about passing gas during yoga class? Or having bad breath? April came over to help me with something today, and when she asked me a question, I just gave her a closed-mouth smile in return for fear I have the post-water-drinking-dry-mouth-means-bad-breath-at-least-for-me-anyway thing going on.

I tell you what, there are parts of me that touched the floor today that haven’t met with the floor in an awful long time. The floor right by the door, where I always set up for reasons I don’t feel like explaining right now. The floor by the door where people tracked in the pollen which I inhaled as the clock ran out on my 12-hour Clairin-D during the Child pose . . . which I thought for a while was “china” pose . . . which set me to thinking about digging my way there and wondering if there are still a boatload of staving children there. Yeah, you could say my mind wanders during yoga. But oh my goodness, you should’ve seen the images that went floating through while we were laying on the floor meditating. I wish I had a camera on the inside of my eyelids.

(Confession: I think I snored there at the end of class.)

by the power invested in me, i now pronounce . . .


a rash
on my back.
excruciating pain
thank goodness.
feeling of
general malaise.
pain –
did i mention pain?

i read a book –
totally unrelated –
and note a sentence
about how this man
had endured a
bout of shingles.
i think nothing of it.
days pass.

can’t sleep.
spend hours
trying to isolate
and define
the source of
the cause of
the pain.
does it hurt
when i press here?
how bout here?
does it hurt
more when i push my arm
against some immovable object?
does it make a difference
when my palm faces up?
when i twist this way?
on and on it goes,
this inquiry.

one night
i wake at
3 a.m.
that this is

my family,
concerned about me
and not wanting
to see me in
i go see a doctor.

surely there’s a pill
or a shot
that will make this
all go away,
they say.

let’s be clear about this:
they care about me.
they don’t want to see me suffer.
i get that.
i appreciate that.
but i know my body.
i haven’t always,
but i do now.

for far too long,
my body only existed
to carry my head around,
the head being the royal chambers
of my brain,
the canvas
for any beauty
i might have: my face.

it might take up
more space
than i’d like,
this body of mine,
but oh
the wisdom
i carry
in my bones
in my cells
in my blood.

i know my body
better than any
knows my body,
of how many
letters trail
after our

don’t get me wrong:
there are times
i will seek
and remedy
from doctors,
but today
i ask my body
and it says
just rest.
move slower.
slather on
the anti-itch ointments and lotions.
take over the counter analgesics.
heed my whispers
and this will eventually pass.

if i don’t
visit a doctor,
the only one
with the authority
to declare me
or healthy,
i must keep going
and i must not
those are the house rules.

those have been the house rules.

there’s change
brewing here
as i recognize
and honor
the wisdom,
the knowledge,
the authority
that clatters
in my bones,
that emanates
from my cells,
that flows
this frame.
my head
part of my body
and the
feels like a

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Hey, Sugar! I'm Jeanne Hewell-Chambers: writer ~ stitcher ~ storyteller ~ one-woman performer ~ creator & founder of The 70273 Project, and I'm mighty glad you're here. Make yourself at home, and if you have any questions, just holler.

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