I gathered all the loose threads I’d shoved underneath my bed
and started braiding them together.
I held each knot between my fingers and framed them in gold,
refusing to untangle a single strand,
working late into the night, watching the glow of my candle dissolve into my skin.
When I was finished,
I wrapped my head in shrouds and showed my creation the world,
and I cried when they cheered.
What is reclamation but reverence for the profane?
For so long, I’d been taught to fear the shape of my own desire,
tearing apart the messy, loose-knit scarves I’d made as a teen,
Armed with buzzwords and logic so sound
I couldn’t recognize the whiteness inherent in my desire to shame,
Reveling in controlling which bodies were worthy of pleasure.
It wasn’t until after,
when I stumbled into my rage
that I rediscovered the shape of my own devotion.
I learned to trace my skin where it teeters on the border between sacred and obscene
and I leaned into it—
dipped my fingers into pastels,
watching a decadence like shame seep off my fingerprints
and dry into claws
and I tied ribbons around each wrist and called them beautiful and I meant it.
I spent two weeks unable to walk.
On the worst day, I hunched over in the shower and looped a finger inside my body,
shaking as I pulled the ribbons from where they had wrapped around the holes in my hipbones.
I watched in the mirror as my skin turned grey,
and when I opened my mouth, my lips cracked apart.
I had honored the desire in my soul
only for my own body to pull my shrine inwards and tear it to shreds.
The reality is,
I am not a stranger to my own body’s betrayal.
I know what it means to tremble at the unfamiliarity of my shape, but I am still reeling.
I ask you: what space is expansive enough for my rage?
How do you grieve a body that craves the memory of betrayal over its own rebirth?
They say you’re supposed to love yourself the way a god loves an altar,
so what candles do I light, what incense can I burn, which chants can I spit, how can I strike the wood
in my palms together
to call forth enough love for the parts of me the world is too afraid to touch?
These ribbons are love letters I sent to a body tangled in loose threads.
You can’t patch up a wound if you don’t know how to sew.