“She Let Herself Go” by George Ella Lyon
She let herself go soft fat sexual She let herself go to the library to college to extremes She let herself go wild and gray and all the way She let herself go deep go alone go sane She let herself stay She let herself abide by her own rules She let herself out She let herself in Let herself in for it She put down her mask She held out her arms She let herself go
She let herself go far go ahead go overboard without saying without apology without She undid her bra peeled off her hose let herself breathe She let herself fill up with air no matter who was threatened by the swell of her belly She let herself go around with her own face no foundation concealer minimizer She let herself be She left dishes in the sink dust furring Great Aunt Sudie’s breakfront Seeing her neighbors’ manicured lawn, she thought Don’t they have anything to read?
She let herself have her limits her bad points her life She discovered she was Some Body not just Any Body not an object of fashion fantasy failure But a woman — not a doll cellophane-worshipped flung to the back of the closet purchased to be perfect forgotten under the bed And she let herself change things besides diapers what’s in the refrigerator the state of the floor She changed She made change She thought of herself for a change She let herself flow and there were stains and cramps and shit and shouting in driveways and walking out fear grinding the guts tears tearing down the freeway the free way
Letting herself go and come She came to the end of her rope and hung on though she’d learned to let go till her numb hand sprung and she fell backward turning over and almost inside out landing in the pit of grief the lap of light open mouth wailing open arms welcoming smashed by the rock soothed by the rocking She’s through! She’s through! Into the abyss Into bliss a twist at the end of the road a translation dark night become the radiant way She let herself go.
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George Ella Lyon Artist Statement:
Though I write in many forms, I am first of all a poet; which means my job is to see and sing the connections between things. The spider’s web is a delicious image for this and for the wonder of something newly made from old patterns, like the sentences writers spin each day.
The strength of my web comes from family, friends, words, music, dreams, mountains, and the joy of making.
Think about the life you are spinning and how you could write about its different strands.
Kentucky Poet Laureate, George Ella Lyon is best known for her poem “Where I’m From.”