“Bet You Thought You Saw the Last of Me” by Rachel Durs
I used to think that I hated the person I was.
I used to think that I left her to die and became someone so much better,
But now I know I reached into the past and grabbed her out of there
And left all her hang-ups behind.
Now I know I didn’t become me by ousting her, but that together we’re the hero of this story –
She just happens to be me, pre-transformation into a bionic superpower.
Once, back then, I unzipped my dresses,
Pulled my skirts off over my head,
Wore hats worn by other people –
And somewhere in between wearing someone else’s clothing
And walking around completely naked
I found a stamp on my body that said my name in every language known to man,
And then somewhere on my bookshelf I found a book where I was every hero.
Somewhere after a dozen years walking hunched over, I unfurled
And somewhere after another half a dozen years floating over houses
I found the middle ground, and I’ll be damned if it wasn’t my own body.
And now I walk a happy medium and say to passers-by:
You aren’t the first to pass this way and you will not be the last.
Now with this mouth I retell the evolution stories
Until they all proclaim the secret of loving even the most brazen inconveniences of our flesh.
Now with these feet I learn to dance around the old memories I wanted to kill
And with these hands I learn to revive the younger girl from times past
That I tried to bury under a torrent of learning and knowledge.
I like her look when she comes out of the dark,
I like the way she takes my criticism of her in stride.
So now I’ll walk hand-in-hand with the self I tried to drown,
And I’ll take her to people who haven’t seen her for ages
And enjoy how big their eyes get when they see her again,
Since they believed they had seen the last of her ages ago.
And right then and there I’ll decide it’s time to love my own history like I love everyone else’s.
So now they’ll call me Wonder-who-that-Woman-is
Or Super Man-don’t-you-wish-you-could-be-like-her,
And one by one the former versions of myself will all reconcile in each other
While I walk familiar pathways and replow the furrows that have obviously been plowed before.
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Rachel Durs Artist Statement:
Rachel Durs is a museum docent by trade and has been writing since she first learned where stories
come from. As such, she is fueled by the idea of telling stories and illustrating the beauty of the past,
present, and future. She discovered poetry in high school, around the same time she learned to embrace
her asexuality and her feminism. Now, in addition to the themes of mythology, futurism, and history –
and how they all sometimes gloriously combine – she writes poems exploring what it is like to exist at
the crossroads of so many ideas and identities: as a woman, an asexual, a Catholic, a feminist, a devotee
to all things retro-historical. These are thoughts and feelings she continues to explore, infusing her
poetry with still more ideas about how people like her fit into history so seamlessly and how they
deserve a place in the future.