Poem History: 'Felt'
Did the shameplant close before it was named?
Years ago I was in Philadelphia, though I don’t remember exactly why. I think my friend Robyn invited me to read some writing at a house show. If I remember correctly, the show wasn’t at her house but at another punk house where everyone was dressed exactly how you’d imagine and had at-home haircuts that looked terrible and hot. I loved being at that house with my friend, sharing art, finally feeling free in a way I hadn’t in years.
Who knows where I slept if at all the whole weekend. I’m assuming it was a weekend and that I must have gotten there by train because I wouldn’t have had a car or access to a car or enough money to rent a car at the time. It had to have been 2015 or so, my first year in grad school when I was 28 going on 29 because we got tattoos at the first tattoo shop owned by a queer person in Philadelphia, either right before or not long after the shop officially opened.
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Robyn and I got the same tattoo. Thinking about it now still makes me smile. I felt so young after feeling so old for most of my twenties until I finally broke up with my abusive boyfriend who I was with on and off again for almost ten years and also started realizing that even before my relationship started with him at 18 while I was still in high school, my body had already been through many things it barely survived and would go on to be treated as something less than the beautiful, sensitive ecosystem it is that is allowing me to communicate with you right now.
The tattoo Robyn and I both got on the inside of our upper arms on the soft flesh just below our hairy armpits was of a simple drawing of the shameplant. Otherwise known as the sensitive plant, sleepy plant, action plant, or touch-me-not. Its scientific name is mimosa pudica. Pudica in Latin meaning, "shy, bashful, or shrinking."
This week, my poem "Felt" was published in The Offing’s Back of the Envelope section. I’ve been reading this magazine for years and I’ve always dreamed of having a piece in this particular section, so it’s given me so much joy to see this prose poem online and to be able to share it with you now. Writing it initially in an online prose poem class during a dark time for me amidst the pandemic and working on edits this week with The Offing team was a lovely reminder to me of what can grow just by being fully present wherever you are and keeping your dreams, big and small, at the top of your mind and heart and trusting that they are almost like a remembering. All you have to do is keep showing up and trusting yourself to take action in the direction of whatever is the next right thing, and then the next—that something inside of you is protecting what is most meant for you.
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