***Ya'll might want to copy/paste this into Word... its a long one.***
There is a woman on an interstate, her arms a lonely brown from the same sun of many different towns. She rides a hard-earned motorcycle, packed with a change of clothes, a humble savings, and her last letters. There is a mysterious determination in her countenance, a scar on her right shoulder, a rip in her jeans. Her son’s green bandana flies in her hair. Though she steers toward a hopeful horizon, the sun seems to always be setting. Ears ringing with power chords from her anthems of the seventies, she drives into the night. I am this woman.
There is a woman in a city. The type of city that makes lists of top twenty _____'s. Though it bellows with the cold metallic shriek of man-made structures, scraping the sky with its screams, she finds an art that sings from within it. She sees it in the brick-wall mural of a Cajun restaurant, owned by a foreign family, long forgotten by business men a few intersections north. She feels it in the exterior vent of the high-rise apartment building that breathes warm air on sleeping homeless families. She creates it in her pawn shop guitar that leaks chords onto street corners, feeding her need for the open air. She communes with it through the faint glow of distant lights, the breeze exhaling through the alleyway, the mirror glass in the sky, the paint that squeezes from tube to life onto her layered skirts. I am this woman.
There is a woman in a tribe, atmospheres away, who paints the corners of her eyes with deep violet juices that seep from fallen fruit. Whose soul dances around a fire, to the sound of her grandfather's drum, which mirrors the heartbeats of the elk and the rhythm of the river that keep her people alive. Who knows her friends not one at a time, but by the unity of their mothers and fathers and their strings of ancestors that watch them all from a perpetually returning moon. Who knows nothing more than the dust of her paths, which blanket her wise and weary feet. I am this woman.
There is a woman running down a dirt road that is flat for miles and days. Eyelids falling, she inhales the mint fields as they clean out the oxygen beneath her skin. She closes her mind to all but the steady rhythm of her feet, knowing her love of these paths will soon become distant. The scent fades, and she senses the wheat fields that now run alongside her. Deceivingly soft and swaying, she knows their surface is painful in reality. Her history is rooted here, she wonders if this is the same dust of her past. Has that earth blown away, or is it buried deep beneath? She struggles with these questions, longing to substitute them with the peace of blank spaces. Instead, she is intercepted by the memory of the summer before the change. Stowaway corn stalks slither up through the wheat, confining her with their indifferent stares. She turns her eyes instead to the road that lies before her, knowing she is strong enough to survive her transformations. She sides with the bordering canals, soaking up the column of coolness which promises life to the dry country surrounding them. Behind her, the soft dust kicks and swirls upward, proof that she is alive and progressing in this moment. I am this woman.
There is a woman on a suburban street. Who lives with her family of seven in an oddly skinny house half the size of the newlywed's across the way. Who prefers her windows down, her music loud, and her feet bare. Who, regardless of the season, has summer in the back of her mind and is wishing for the ocean. Whose favorite drinking water is un-bottled, streaming from copper-mouthed hoses in backyards of her past. Who measures life in words and thoughts rather than square-inches and dollars. Who is strong enough to no longer love the drunken boy across the lake. Who runs against her weak legs, fueled by the pulses of her immortal longings. Who flies to and fro across the country, between two towns: one upholds a reverence for who she was, the other, a fighting faith in who she is becoming. Both have combined to transform her home from a geographical definition, into fleeting and transient resting-place that she must now keep within herself. Who knows that though most minds passing by would see her as less, she is this woman, and yet all of these women speak from within her, the anatomy of her soul.