A Map of My Life

Sep 1, 2021 | 2021 Fall - Bodies, Poetry

By Lani Ka’ahumanu

There is a ritual I do when I remove my clothes with someone
whether it’s to sunbathe, sauna, massage or to make love.

I tell the stories of my scars.

MY BODY IS A MAP OF MY LIFE
A PATCHWORK QUILT
THAT IS WARM AND SOFT AND STRONG.

I didn’t always appreciate my body.
I used to be ashamed and embarrassed.
I had a difficult time baring my self with
or even without other people around.
I would avoid looking at myself, I mean really looking beyond the self-hate, beyond the media image that I should be, and that I could be if only… There was no real sense other than I wasn’t good enough.

I was constantly comparing my self with others.
The more I denied this closet character the more control it had over my life.
It was a drag. I wanted to be free; so I practiced.
I practiced being nude dancing, walking, sitting, laying, playing all while looking in the mirror at myself from every possible angle.

It wasn’t easy but as the months and year passed
I became more comfortable and accepting. You could even say
I developed a nonchalant attitude when in the nude.
I began to feel at home in my body and in the growing sense of well being SCAR WOMAN emerged from the closet. All imperfections exposed, I claimed the unique, distinctive markings, making them perfect in the showing.

MY BODY IS A MAP OF MY LIFE
A PATCHWORK QUILT
THAT IS WARM AND SOFT AND STRONG.

LK 1980
Performed in BODY IMAGE 
a Mothertongue Reader’s Theater Production

Lani is an elder activist, author, poet, educator, and grandmother. She is regarded as the strategic political architect of the early U.S. bisexual movement.

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